The draft National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) needs more work to ensure that it achieves the Government's aims and effectively balances economic, social and environmental priorities, according to the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) in its formal consultation response.
In particular, the RTPI is pressing for the following:
- Clarification of the presumption in favour of sustainable development. The Government needs to define sustainable development more precisely. As drafted, the presumption risks a disruption in the smooth running of the planning system. Any change needs to managed effectively;
- A tightening up of language. In parts, the language needs to be tightened upto avoid ambiguity and legal challenge;
- The document to have a spatial aspect, expressing a vision for development for England as a whole, recognising that different parts of the country will be affected differently by policy;
- NPPF on the face of the Localism Bill.The status of and procedures for producing and reviewing the NPPF need to be embodied in statute to ensure proper public debate of issues and restore democratic accountability through Parliament; and,
- Positive planning needs to be holistic, and not reactive. The draft focuses on providing a basis for determining planning applications rather than genuine place shaping.
The Chief Executive of the RTPI, Trudi Elliott CBE, said:
"We support the notion of consolidating national planning policy, yet the draft NPPF was in many respects a missed opportunity in that it is not a spatial document. The Government now has an opportunity to ensure that the national planning policy framework is a spatially expressed vision for development in England, so that people can see clearly and easily which areas are protected and which are priority areas for growth.
We are also keenly aware of the need for sensible transitional arrangements, to ensure that the new system is brought in smoothly and efficiently and does not result in a sudden and disastrous halt to sustainable development."
Our response to the draft National Planning Policy Framework cab be found here: high level points (pdf 72.5kb) and response to questionnaire (pdf 244kb).