Friday, 30 September 2011

The National Planning Policy Framework debate

It’s supposed to be the season of ‘mists and mellow fruitfulness’, but the mood in the countryside is far from mellow when it comes to the Government’s proposed changes to the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF).

Will we be seeing more of this in the countryside? Photo: Gene Hunt, Creative Commons, FLIKR
Alarming headlines warn us that the new proposals represent “a threat to the countryside” (Daily Mail), “threaten [the] green belt” (Telegraph) and “will destroy Britain” (Guardian). So why are the headlines so alarmist?

The environmental community fear that their concerns about unchecked rural development will be brushed aside in a mad rush to stimulate the economy – something they regard as short-termist.

A loose coalition of individuals and organisations including the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE), the National Trust and Greenpeace have come together to voice their concerns. They are calling upon MPs to fight against the proposed changes and are hoping for an outcome similar to the u-turn on the sale of national forests.

However, there is significant support for the proposed planning reforms from the business community. Stewart Baseley, Executive Chair of the Home Builders Federation, said: “Scaremongering by anti-growth groups has resulted in negative reports and a false impression that threatens to stunt constructive discussion over how to shape and guide development in the future.”

During Prime Minister’s questions in the Commons on 14 September, Mr Cameron tried to pour oil on troubled water, telling MPs that proposed changes would favour localism over centralism and that local communities therefore had nothing to fear. He also pledged that green belt land would be protected. 

Nonetheless, the new proposals represent the biggest shake-up of planning since the Town and Country Planning Act of 1947. The consultation period ends on 17 October.

Whatever the outcome of the debate it’s our belief that the best decisions are made based on good information. FIND Maps offers all the information required to build a complete picture of the spatial context of a planning application.

Whether you need mandated environmental reports, high resolution aerial photography or OS MasterMap, at FIND Maps we pride ourselves on providing timely access to professional data.

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