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National Trust sets out vision for a planning framework fit for purpose

Following assurances from the Prime Minister that the planning system should continue serve the public interest by balancing social and environmental benefits with those of the economy, today the National Trust sets out its positive vision including the top line requirements for a planning system which can deliver that balance.

The draft National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF), published by the Coalition Government in July, threatened to put short-term economic gain ahead of all other considerations, including the impact on local communities and local green spaces.

Dame Fiona Reynolds, Director-General of the National Trust, said: “We warmly welcomed the Prime Minister’s intervention; our task now is to play a full part in the consultation process until we are satisfied that the final planning regulation reflects his assurances, providing a neutral framework which decision makers can use to achieve balance.

“We support the simplification and streamlining of the planning system and agree that it needs to provide land for new housing, jobs and infrastructure as well as protecting the environment. We are also keen to see greater engagement by local people in the decisions that affect their future.

“What we question is the present draft NPPF, which does not deliver these goals. It needs significant change to properly reflect the ambition of balance.

The National Trust’s ten asks of the NPPF are*:

1. Confirmation that the planning system should not be used as a blunt tool to ‘proactively drive development’.

2. Clarification of how planning should promote genuinely, robustly defined, sustainable development.

3. Clause 130 of the Localism Bill, (Applications for planning permission: local finance considerations) should be removed. Financial payments should not be a material consideration in planning decisions.

4. The NPPF should see no diminution of protection for designated countryside and heritage; and planning should continue to protect the wider countryside ‘for its own sake’.

5. The NPPF should adopt an explicit ‘brownfield first’ approach.

6. The NPPF should provide a five year supply of land for housing, but the requirement to identify an additional 20 per cent of land should be dropped.

7. The default ‘YES’, and requirement to grant permission where a local plan is out-of-date, indeterminate or silent, is irresponsible and must be removed.

8. Localism should be real: communities should be given genuine power to shape their area for the better.

9. It is fundamentally wrong that neighbourhood plans should be led and funded by business. It should be a core principle of the reforms that any plans, whether at neighbourhood or local authority level, should be genuinely community led.

10. There should be a limited third party right of appeal, in circumstances where consent is granted for development that is inconsistent with the local plan. This should be guaranteed by the Localism Bill.

Consultation on the draft NPPF closes on 17 October. Visit www.planningforpeople.org.uk to find out more, and add your voice to our petition. Over 100,000 already have!

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