The National Trust is a non-political, independent charity which exists to look after some of the country’s most treasured countryside for the benefit of the nation. It does not take a party political position on planning or any other issue.
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“We welcome that Sir Michael Lyons’ review does not propose a further shake up of national planning policies, and recognises that many of the problems with undersupply of housing lie with the market rather than failures of the planning system.
“We agree that the nation needs more homes, and will look carefully at proposals for housing growth areas and garden cities and suburbs. It is critical that we choose the right places to put new housing, and involve communities through the local planning process to get genuinely sustainable development.
“We hope that Labour focuses on Sir Michael’s proposals to support the plan-led system rather than policies to take planning powers away from local councils.”
In many places, the NPPF is not yet leading to plan-led development. Only 54% of Local Planning Authorities have a Local Plan, and the Local Plan adoption rate has slowed since the new Planning Framework was adopted.
Planning balances the interests of the nation as a community with those of individuals – and Local Plans should be at the heart of the planning system. Without a Local Plan, or with an out of date plan, it seems that communities are at risk from speculative development mainly due the five year land supply rules.
Ingrid Samuel, National Trust historic environment director, said:
“We have called for state investment to get difficult brownfield sites ready for development, and so we welcome moves in this direction from Government – and the clear recognition from the Chancellor of the need to protect valued countryside. There are many sites in urban areas, close to existing jobs and transport links which communities would like to develop ahead of countryside sites though their Local Plans, but developers currently deem them unviable due to additional costs.
“As with any development, care should be taken to ensure new homes on brownfield land respect local heritage and biodiversity, are well designed, with access to green space and good transport links, and that affordability needs are considered. The detail of any proposed changes will need to make sure that local communities, through the planning process, can ensure these needs are properly considered.”
“The Communities and Local Government Select Committee played a key role in improving the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) as it was being drafted, and so we’re pleased it will be looking at how these planning rules are being implemented and understood.
“The Government’s clear intention is to deliver a brownfield first approach and protect our Green Belt and special areas of countryside, yet this does not seem to be happening on the ground. Evidence we have gathered suggests some councils feel unable to prioritise brownfield site development and maintain their Green Belt, and two years on from the adoption of the NPPF, there are still only 52% of councils with an approved local plan in place. We will be sharing our concerns with the Committee, and hope its inquiry will help to solve this problem.”
Ingrid Samuel, Historic Environment Director, said: “Sir Terry’s report is very compelling. We hope it will lead to a new recognition of the importance of beauty and the spirit of a place in new developments, and ensure that fewer inappropriate schemes get the go-ahead.
“It is crucial that, when we are planning new housing and other buildings in a community, we start from an understanding of what people love and value about that place, and ensure any new development is sympathetic to the local context it sits in.
“We hope that many of the Review’s practical solutions will be taken forward by Government, including his call for proactive planning for design, reducing VAT on retrofitting, and appointing design experts at central and local level.”
Half of the councils in England with Green Belt land are preparing to allocate some of it for development whilst brownfield sites throughout the country are overlooked, suggests research published today by the National Trust.