Sunday, March 11, 2018

The review of the National Planning Policy Framework needs you

This is the most important post in the several years of my blogging.  The new NPPF will be the most influential policy document over the next five to ten years (I have no reason to believe that Labour has any more clue as to how to use the planning system to produce sustainable development) and all those with an understanding of what is wrong in terms of the use of land and buildings and how it might be fixed should respond to the consultation (and to the Royal Town Institute)

The proposals to change the 2012 NPPF  have failed to grasp the problems that have arisen from the operation of the original.  There are a number of reasons why it is necessary to review the NPPF as the main policy framework relating to the use and development of land and buildings:

- carbon emissions from buildings have increased and are not on a path to meet carbon budgets agreed by the Government nor the Paris Agreement,[1]

- car traffic is increasing and bus services are declining,

- air quality remains below legal standards; killing people and harming children,

- biodiversity in terms both flora and fauna is decreasing as part of a ‘great extinction’,

- wellbeing and mental health are not improving,

- housing is not becoming more affordable,

- homelessness and rough sleeping are increasing,

- incidents of flooding are not any less frequent or severe.

The draft revision of the NPPF must be judged on whether it is likely to make good on all these failures of the 2012 version – in respect of matters that are some of the most serious facing society during the time during which the Government intends the new NPPF to have effect – the breaking of Planetary Boundaries and the failure to meet Sustainable Development Goals.

The DHCLG should be referred to the research with which you are familiar that shows that the position in say 2030 (when The Centre of Alternative Technology has shown it to be perfectly feasible to be 'zero carbon'), the operation of the consultation draft would have wasted another ten years in the development of a low/zero carbon economy with all the co-benefits that this implies in terms of physical and mental wellbeing, agroecological farming, locally produced and nutritious food, accessibility (achieved through reduced mobility), improved democracy and collaborations etc

  The fact that on all important measures the impacts have got worse during the operation of the 2012 Framework suggests that new proposals which only ‘tinker at the edges’ will not be fit for purpose. The Framework should be substantially re-written with planetary boundaries and Sustainable Development Goals as the main points of reference, rather than the short term demands of established interest groups such as landowners, car owners, developers and homeowners.

[1] Planning to reduce carbon emissions explains how the land use planning system could reduce emissions by 50%

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