Thursday, March 11, 2021

Is the proposed The National Planning Policy Framework fit for purpose?

There is an important consultation from MHCLG that requires the attention of all those concerned about how the National Policy Planning Framework(s) has failed to control the carbon emissions from the building and operation of new housing over the last 8 years and have ideas as to what amendments might do the job. Google NPPF or use Respond by 27 March and copy your MP.

My response urged the Government to insert reference to the Climate Change Act 2008 as amended and change ‘low carbon’ reference to ‘net zero carbon’.  I think that it is most important to revise the definition of climate change mitigation to link it specifically to the zero carbon target but also the statutory carbon budgets that cover the necessary rate of emission reductions.

This consultation has been triggered by the conceit that ‘beautiful’ buildings will be more popular and attract pubic support for the 300,000 houses a year that has been ingrained as the scale of housing need.  Without saying that beauty is being used as a dangerous diversion from the need to require all new building to be net zero carbon (in construction and operation), respondents could suggest that good design, if not beauty, is where form follows function.  So instead of the current fascination with brick and tile, beautiful buildings are those where the carbon saving features are most evident.

The issue of housing numbers should also start with good evidence of the levels of overcrowding and under-occupation (as well as the fact that there are 27m households and 28million dwellings.  Growth of 'working from home' should not mean more privately owned/occupied space, but finding sites and buildings for serviced neighbourhood offices/workshops. 

The issues of housing older people and meeting the demand for self/custom building need to be addressed (and not passed over in one short paragraph.  It may be that these housing needs and demands could best be met within carbon budgets through incentivising (including supportive planning policies) residential sub-divisions (including custom-splitting or cusping).

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