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Draft National Planning Policy Framework launched
‘A new, simpler framework for the planning system that safeguards the environment while meeting the need for sustainable growth’ has been published for consultation today by Planning Minister Greg Clark.

National planning policy, which is the basis for every local plan and decision, has accumulated to over one thousand pages during the last decade. Its volume and complexity have made planning increasingly inaccessible to all but specialists.

Ministers are now inviting views on the draft National Planning Policy Framework – which streamlines national policy from over 1,000 pages to just 52 pages of policy – as part of a consultation to get the planning system right for current and future generations. The draft Framework draws on responses to an initial call for evidence earlier in the year. The Government intends to consult on simplifying other guidance on national policy as the next step.

Underpinning the draft Framework are protections for communities to safeguard the natural and historic environment. It maintains the Government's commitment to protecting the green belt, Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and Sites of Special Scientific Interest; facilitates a new generation of renewable energy projects; paves the way for green transport of the future – the electric car – by encouraging decision makers to provide charging points; re-affirms protections for our nation's historic and cultural heritage, and for our wildlife and bio-diversity, including new protection for peat bogs; and helps tackle the light pollution affecting the beauty of the night sky.

In addition, the draft Framework delivers on the Government's commitment in the Natural Environment White Paper to allow communities to earmark important local green spaces for special protection – whether its value is in its natural beauty, its historical resonances, its recreational value, its tranquillity or its richness in wildlife.

Greg Clark said: "We need a simpler, swifter system that is easier to understand and where you don't need to pay for a lawyer to navigate your way around. That's why we promised reform to make planning easier to understand and easier to use for everyone.”

The UK Green Building Council (UK-GBC) welcomed the draft National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) and its emphasis on delivering reductions in greenhouse gas emissions through planning.

However, UK-GBC believes that the ‘presumption in favour of sustainable development’ needs further clarification in order to provide greater certainty to developers and ensure that developments meet the highest standards of sustainability.

Paul King, CEO of UK-GBC said: “Experience suggests that when the industry has clarity on what it needs to achieve, it is more than capable of rising to the challenge and delivering world-class projects like the construction projects for the London 2012 Games.”

WWF today expressed concern at the short term approach taken by the Coalition Government. It said that the NPPF is predominantly focused on addressing short term challenges, such as reducing the economic deficit. “Whilst no one can argue this is important, action to boost sustainable economic growth must not result in increased threats to Britain’s natural environment and the long term sustainability of local communities,” it said.

The draft National Planning Policy Framework can be found here