Debate over controversial reforms toEngland’s planning system returned to the Lords yesterday. We watched discussions unfold. Here’s a quick summary for you.
The overwhelming view of the Lords seemed to be:
- They supported the simplification of the planning system
- But the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) needs to be substantially rewritten
Clarity and culture
Many Lords spoke of the need to clarify the language in the document while others emphasised the importance of protecting the countryside and heritage. Baroness Andrews was particularly eloquent on the subject of heritage – as we highlighted in our tweet.
In a rare intervention the Church (Bishop of Ripon andLeeds) called for a greater emphasis on justice and the equity of social, environmental and economic factors.
A recurring theme was the need to develop a better definition of sustainable development. Even those peers who were more supportive such as Baroness Valentine (Chief Exec of London First seemed to suggest the NPPF document needed revision.
Pre-empting Monday’s third reading of Localism Bill (31 October) Baroness Hanham also confirmed that the Government will not be putting a definition of sustainable development in the bill.
A second consultation? Unlikely
After confirming that the Government has received 14,000 responses to the consultation Baroness Hanham appeared to rule out a second consultation and a debate and vote in both houses, although this is still under consideration.
Confusion over local plans
The confusion over the status of local plans continues with Baroness Hanham appearing to indicate that existing plans would not become out of date.
This appears to contradict previous statements although she did confirm that the Government is looking at a ‘speeded up’ process to ensure local plans conform with the NPPF.
Baroness Hanham wrongly suggested that the National Trust is calmer on the issues. As we tweeted, she might be mistaking our willingness to talk as being calm…
We still have fundamental concerns over the document and the future of planning in England. Incidentally, we’ll be holding a panel discussion on the subject which you can watch live at 2pm on Saturday 29 October.
Want to know more?
Watch the Lords debate online to stay up-to-date with our campaign.
Ian Wilson, Head of Government Affairs for the National Trust