So, finally, it is here. Planning’s Big Day.

After all the claim and counter claim we will finally find out what the National Planning Policy Framework has in store for English land use planning policy. Will it lay waste to England’s green and pleasant land as some claim, or will it simplify, speed up, and deliver growth whilst protecting our green and pleasant land? 

In short, who is going to win, and who to lose. In the blue corner Government, BPF, HBF and others, or the team in the green corner CPRE, National Trust and RSPB?

To help you gauge the ups and downs we have produced a handy little checklist.

  1. Presumption in favour of sustainable development. If this weights economic considerations above the social and environmental Government are clearly on to a winner. If the economic is to have equal weight to  social and economic considerations Greg Clark might be getting his coat.
  2. Countryside protection. On this one, if the environmental lobby have managed to have a general protection for the countryside inserted in to NPPF it is a major coup, and would be another big defeat for Eric Pickles’ boys. If this change hasn’t been taken on board then it will be trebles all round at Eland House.
  3. Brownfield first. Heavily trailed already as a concession of sorts, albeit with locally set targets (read last week’s Treasury Red Book), the exact wording on this one could further signal of who is coming out on top.
  4. Local Plans. Will the automatic granting of permission when a plan is out of date, indeterminate, or silent survive? If it does the environmental lobby will have seen a significant turnaround, and the Treasury will probably have been all over the drafting of the NPPF. If the reverse is true, then this would be a major climbdown, and for a lot of local planning authorities the panic will be over.
  5. Transitional arrangements. Once again flagged in the Treasury Red Book. Key here will be how long local planning authorities will have to put up to date plans in place, and the level of support they are given be DCLG. A long transitional period, and bags of cash will mean the Government have probably raised the white flag and given up on planning reform. A 12 month period of grace, with big sticks at the end, and once again the Treasury must be calling the shots. Big win for the DCLG team.

So if Government come out on top as 5-0 or 4-1 winners on this lot things will never be the same again. Expect some of the worst excesses of the 1980s to reappear – planning by appeal; poorly designed executive housing estates; and mullet hair cuts. Did they ever go way? 5-0 or 4-1 against the Government and this is a climbdown of epic proportions – expect job losses in any DCLG reshuffle.   

3-2 either way then we feel an honourable compromise. Let’s plan! 

Exciting isn’t it? Anoraks that we are, we can’t wait. We will be giving our take on the result as soon as we can after the NPPF’s publication at 12.30 today.

This post featured originally on Kirkwell’s Planning Blog



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