The government is currently ripping up the old planning guidance and replacing it with a new, much shorter National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF). Unfortunately, there is no vision as to the future development of England in this document.

The draft NPPF redefines sustainable development as growth, and in particular refuses to recognise environmental limits. Droughts and floods are just two examples of the limitations of the environment to support ever more development in certain areas without direct consequences.

The presumption in favour of development will undermine the local plan, and could undermine community input. It could also lead to poor and inappropriate development.

The draft policies in the NPPF ranging from housing to transport to minerals are all underpinned by a drive to permit development and not by sustainable development principles that recognise environmental limits. The planning system did not lead to the collapse in the financial system, or the collapse in the housing market. But the planning system is being appropriated to drive unsustainable, poor quality growth of a certain type forward. This will be at the expense of communities and the environment.

The government claim that changes are key to our economic recovery, but by failing to define what sustainable development means Government plans are likely to encourage a building free-for-all.

If we’re to build the low-carbon future the Government has promised, it’s essential that we develop the UK’s huge green energy potential and build more fuel-efficient and affordable homes.

Friends of the Earth is not anti-development, but the Government’s reforms will not deliver the outcomes we really need – such as:

  • Affordable green homes The Tories scrapped cheap housing targets.
  • Green jobs and industries The Government needs to define sustainable development.
  • Environmental protection There is no guidance to respect environmental limits.

Friends of the Earth is asking for:

  • A legal definition of sustainable development. This needs to be enshrined in law through the current Localism Bill
  • Detailed guidance for local councils. Councils need to understand sustainable development to create green jobs, build affordable homes and protect the environment.

Please take this e-action on the Friends of the Earth website to Stop the Planning Free-For-All.