The NPPF – a huge threat to our countryside and green spaces
In the week the draft NPPF was published I didn’t have to read beyond page 4 to realize that its unrestrained over-prioritization for economic growth and development is a huge threat to the countryside and green spaces that we love. Also that it abuses the term “sustainable development” as early as pages 3 to 4 to mean anything but sustainable with regards our countryside resources – which are finite and irreplaceable (as well as important to our quality of life – this being undervalued by the NPPF). From the context within which the term is used in the NPPF its meaning in effect is Sustained development - for economic growth. 
I strongly agree with the criticisms of the NPPF by The National Trust, CPRE and RSPB, and fully support their campaigns for the NPPF to be at least re-balanced to give adequate weighting to the values of the countryside and green spaces.
Peter Clarke of Penrith wrote an excellent letter on the threats of the NPPF in the 11th August issue of The Westmorland Gazette (p.19) – and I have appended it below for your easy reference.
I uploaded onto my web-space my first impressions of the NPPF and tweeted its link on 29th July. Mike Galloway (@MikeGalloway) - LibDem Councillor (Milton Keynes) rapidly responded:
Since then I have improved the document containing my first impressions and I hope you will find it of interest – as I “pull no punches” in criticizing not just the prioritization in the NPPF but also the flawed neoliberal thinking behind it. I’ve attached a copy – or just click this link:
I must add that I am not against development everywhere (I am not a B.A.N.A.N.A.!) nor against it per se:
For example I am all for the sensible development of brown-field land and run-down areas that need it – and I am sure that e.g. parts of North East England fit into this category. However – critics of the NPPF say that it removes the priority for brown-field sites to be developed before green-field sites (probably because the brown-field sites would be more costly to be prepared for development! [easier to move on and trash fresh sites than clear up the mess left by past developments?]). This is unacceptable.
Also I am fully aware of the need for affordable housing (& know it’s a pet subject of yours!), but agree with the NT in their tweet that “We agree on houses, we just want to make sure they're in the right place for people, environment and economy, which #NPPF will not”.
Minister Greg Clark and certain other Tory MPs have been trying to re-assure the public that the planning changes are not as the NT, CPRE and RSPB make out, accusing them of “scare-mongering” and more (e.g. in FT.com: http://t.co/rvWc301), but planning expert @AndrewLainton points out that it is Greg Clark that is misrepresenting the NPPF, and misrepresenting the NT’s viewpoint (he also shows how Greg Clark has made false statements about what’s in the NPPF ). I thus cannot trust Greg Clark’s disingenuous spin attempts at reassurances, and like many would not be satisfied with any letters or statements of re-assurance until the NPPF has been thoroughly modified.
I would be grateful if you could do what you can to get the NPPF modified to protect the countryside and green spaces instead of promoting what will otherwise be a messy and environmentally destructive free-for-all land-grab for development in the wrong places.
Letter by Peter Clarke to The Westmorland Gazette, re-typed from 11 August 2011 issue, p.19:
|If, like me, you
love the sight of our beautiful local countryside, you may be shocked
to learn that the Government has published a new set of planning rules
which could give an automatic green light to any new development in the
countryside outside the most protected sites such as National Parks and
Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
For over 50 years the planning system has balanced the need for new buildings and houses with those of the environment and local people. But the new national planning policy framework contains a 'presumption in favour of sustainable development' which, as ministers are reluctant to tell anyone what 'sustainable' might mean, looks like a default 'yes' to development. Local people will find it increasingly difficult to campaign against unsustainable development, nor will we get any appeal; green sites will be concreted over. These are hardly the actions of a government aspiring to be 'the greenest government ever'. I am supporting the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) in fighting these changes, and they have helped me send a letter to my MP asking ministers to reconsider. I urge anyone else who wants England to remain a green and pleasant land to do the same by visiting www.cpre.org.uk. Peter Clarke, Penrith
P.S. I hope the links hypertext work!
Dr T.H.L. Adams - Consultant Ecologist