Retailers, lawyers, and Greg Clarks own constituents are now amongst those expressing concerns with the NPPF. With 4 days until the consultation period closes, there are high hopes amongst countless groups that the Minister for Decentralisation and Planning will take on board all the criticisms that have been levelled against the document.
In a submission to MPs John Lewis have highlighted the role of planning reforms in heightening the struggle of town centres, particularly market towns, who have already been hit by the recession. The John Lewis Partnership claimed that the framework significantly weakened the “town centre first” policy that had been essential in the past decade in stopping supermarkets from building out of town. They also reiterated the concerns of others that the new ‘streamlined’ draft would cause confusion and delay in the planning system as a whole.
John Hobson QC, one of the country’s leading planning service, has today said the proposals contained within the NPPF substantially weaken the protection of green belt land. His report commissioned by the Campaign to Protect Rural England states that the only way to ensure protection of the green belt is to retain the current wording, that expressly states there should be no inappropriate development of the green belt. He said: “In my opinion if the Government do indeed wish to carry forward the protection of the green belt to the same degree as at present, the express presumption against inappropriate development in the green belt should be reinstated.” Despite this evidence, Greg Clark and the government continue to insist that none of England’s invaluable green belt will come under threat from the reforms.
Planning officials from Greg Clarks own borough, the Conservative strong hold that is Tunbridge Wells have added their voices to concerns about the planning reforms. Specifically they warn that it might mean an extra 19,900 houses being built in the borough between now and 2026. The council has also flagged up misgivings about the plans to allow the granting of rights to build on green belt.