Archive for December, 2015

More changes to planning: what’s going on?

The Government wants to amend the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF). It was meant to last a generation, but governments cannot leave the planning system alone. The consultation closes on 25 January, and at least CPRE’s policy staff will have something to think about over Christmas.

The first sign of this government’s itch to fiddle with the planning system was the appointment of an expert panel to advise on speeding up the delivery of local plans. Although I was critical of the composition of the panel, we have had a good dialogue with its Chair, John Rhodes, and made a detailed submission based on the evidence of CPRE branches from across the country. We look forward to the committee’s report in January.

But by then further changes to the planning system will be well in train, as the  Housing and Planning Bill reaches the end of its passage through Parliament. The expert panel is labouring to suggest improvements to a system the Government has already decided to change. And now, before the Bill has been properly debated let alone passed by Parliament, another set of changes is on the way.

The Bill, the appointment of the expert panel, and the proposed revisions to the NPPF have three things in common.

First, they are all about speeding up planning and making it easier to get planning permission. Continue reading ‘More changes to planning: what’s going on?’

Landscape vs. Nature?

Here is my column from the December Countryman, available in all good newsagents.

Before the general election CPRE put together the Landscapes for Everyone manifesto, supported by around 30 organisations. Around the same time, a different coalition called for a new Nature and Wellbeing Act to bring about a recovery of nature within a generation.

There was some crossover between the groups (CPRE, for instance, was in both) but the fact that half the conservation movement was campaigning for ‘nature’ and half for ‘landscape’ prompted the question of whether there must be a conflict between the two things. Nature exists in landscapes – indeed, ‘landscape scale conservation’ is the order of the day – so is there any sense in which the restoration of nature would not also benefit landscapes? Continue reading ‘Landscape vs. Nature?’