The draft National Planning Policy Framework contains (amongst many other things) a presumption in favour of sustainable development. The presumption works to ensure that Local Planning Authorities plan for necessary development. It’s a good thing, as this is what Local Authorities should be doing.
The presumption says that if a LPA has failed to plan for development, then development that comes forwards on its own (if sustainable) should be granted. In other words, plan for development, or whatever comes forwards could be granted. Rather than the current political incentive to refuse development on the basis that no-one likes new houses (and all the extra traffic it would create), the incentive is now to plan for appropriate development. This is exactly the problem the Conservatives identified with the Regional Spatial Strategies.
The CPRE, National Trust and associated Daily Mail / Torygraph lobby are getting very exercised on the basis that the presumption would see ‘concreting over our Green belts’ etc. This is scare mongering. But what the presumption does is force lobby groups like CPRE to stop saying “no” to those of us who would like to own our own home, and properly plan for the housing that the country desperately needs.
Only a small part of England has been built on, and there is plenty of room for new homes. In fact, Lord Rooker put it quite succinctly in response to the Torygraph ‘Hands of our Countryside Campaign’:
SIR – A couple of weeks ago, when the Lords was sitting, I was given written parliamentary answers by the minister at the Department for Communities and Local Government, saying that the land area in England designated as National Parks is 9 per cent; areas of outstanding natural beauty are 15 per cent; green belt is 13 per cent and urban is 9 per cent. This makes a grand total of 46 per cent.
To solve all the actual and perceived housing and other development issues, the area of land required, estimated from my time as a minister in the same department, is about 1 per cent.
So what is the problem?