Neill: NPPF criticism 'wide of the mark'

Much of the criticism of the coalition's draft National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) has been 'ill informed' and 'wide of the mark', according to planning minister Bob Neill.

Neill: 'we will listen to people’s concerns'
Neill: 'we will listen to people’s concerns'
Neill told a Conservative Party conference fringe event organised by the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) that, while campaigners had raised some serious points raised about the proposed planning reforms, much of the criticism has been "well wide of the mark".

He cited comments made by planning barrister Joe Harper who, according to Neill, is "one of the top planning lawyers – I am happy to trust his statement that much of the criticism of the NPPF has been ill-informed".

However, Neill stopped short of providing examples of such "ill-informed" criticism.

He insisted that the government will take on board concerns raised about the NPPF, consider consultation responses and be prepared to act on those concerns – in the form of "rewording" parts of the document – where there is justification.

Neill said: "There have been some serious points raised [about the reforms] but there have also been those that are well wide of the mark.

"But of course we will listen to people’s concerns and act where necessary. I am also conscious about the need for a proper transition arrangement [for those councils that have not yet adopted local plans]."

Trudi Elliot, chief executive of the RTPI, said during the session that transition arrangements would be crucial in preventing the planning system from slowing down while the industry waits for the reforms to take effect.

A DCLG spokesman said: "We welcome the opportunity to begin a forensic examination of the draft proposals for planning reform. As has been made clear we have always recognised the need for a balance between the environmental, social and economic dimensions of sustainable development.  

"No-one disagrees that we need a simpler system which removes the red tape and bureaucracy that plague planning in this country, which puts local people in control and responsibly delivers the homes and jobs we need. Now is the time to get down to the detail."

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