The National Trust has issued a list of ten key demands to the government’s proposed planning reforms, including the removal of legislation supporting the New Homes Bonus.
The National Trust described its list of demands, set out in detail below, as its “top line requirements” for a balanced planning system.
They include a call for the removal of clause 130 of the Localism Bill, which was introduced by ministers to allow incentive payments to be made to councils that approve housing development through the New Homes Bonus scheme.
Under the bonus, councils receive payments equal to the council tax generated from new homes for six years after they are completed, with an extra payment for social housing.
But the National Trust said the clause in the Localism Bill enabling the scheme, which allows financial payments to become a material consideration in planning decisions, should be removed.
The National Trust also called for the government to reinstate an explicit brownfield first policy, something already hinted at by planning minister Greg Clark (pictured).
The National Trust, alongside other campaign groups and the Daily Telegraph newspaper, has been leading a campaign against proposed changes to the planning system, warning that they prioritise economic growth over social and environmental factors.
Prime minister David Cameron wrote to the charity last week to assure it that the planning system would continue to protect the countryside.
Dame Fiona Reynolds, National Trust director general said: “We warmly welcomed the prime minister’s intervention; our task now is to play a full part in the consultation process until we are satisfied that the final planning regulation reflects his assurances, providing a neutral framework which decision makers can use to achieve balance.
“We support the simplification and streamlining of the planning system and agree that it needs to provide land for new housing, jobs and infrastructure as well as protecting the environment. We are also keen to see greater engagement by local people in the decisions that affect their future.
“What we question is the present draft NPPF, which does not deliver these goals. It needs significant change to properly reflect the ambition of balance.”
The National Trust’s 10 ‘asks’
- Confirmation that the planning system should not be used as a blunt tool to ‘proactively drive development’
- Clarification of how planning should promote genuinely, robustly defined, sustainable development
- Clause 130 of the Localism Bill, (Applications for planning permission: local finance considerations) should be removed. Financial payments should not be a material consideration in planning decisions
- The NPPF should see no diminution of protection for designated countryside and heritage; and planning should continue to protect the wider countryside ‘for its own sake’
- The NPPF should adopt an explicit ‘brownfield first’ approach
- The NPPF should provide a five year supply of land for housing, but the requirement to identify an additional 20 per cent of land should be dropped
- The default ‘YES’, and requirement to grant permission where a local plan is out-of-date, indeterminate or silent, is irresponsible and must be removed
- Localism should be real: communities should be given genuine power to shape their area for the better
- It is fundamentally wrong that neighbourhood plans should be led and funded by business. It should be a core principle of the reforms that any plans, whether at neighbourhood or local authority level, should be genuinely community led
- There should be a limited third party right of appeal, in circumstances where consent is granted for development that is inconsistent with the local plan. This should be guaranteed by the Localism Bill.
The British Property Federation welcomed the call for a more explicit requirement to develop brownfield land before greenfield sites, but said it was concerned that the National Trust “does not seem to regard local businesses as having a legitimate voice in neighbourhood planning”.
The industry body also added that neighbourhoods “should not be allowed to completely disregard the local need for new homes”.
BPF chief executive Liz Peace said: “We strongly agree that the new planning system should promote sustainable development that balances the needs of people, environment and businesses; we agree that town centres should be supported and we agree that it is right, where practical, to develop brownfield land first.
“However, the Trusts’ insistence that businesses cannot be considered part of their communities is both inequitable and economically naive. Businesses should be just as entitled as residents to have a say in how their areas are developed and communities need jobs if they are not to wither and die - or become just dormitory settlements.
“We are also concerned at the suggestion that neighbourhoods should be able to thwart evidence based plans, developed by elected local authorities, to provide much-needed homes. This would exacerbate our housing shortage and deprive families and young people of somewhere to live, something that should be a basic human right.”
The consultation on the draft national planning policy framework closes on October 17
For the BPF’s full response to the National Trust’s 10 ‘asks’ go here.