RTPI calls for NPPF sustainable development definition

The Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) has called for the government to define sustainable development within the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF).

RTPI chief executive Trudi Elliott
RTPI chief executive Trudi Elliott

The presumption in favour of sustainable development, which could see development which is in line with national policy approved where local plans are "absent, silent, indeterminate or where relevant policies are out of date", has been one of the most controversial issues surrounding the on-going NPPF debate.

In its response to the government’s consultation on the draft NPPF, the RTPI calls on the government to "define sustainable development more precisely" and it says to fail to do so would risk "disruption in the smooth running of the planning system".

The RTPI has also called for several other changes to be made to the document "to ensure that it achieves the government’s aims and effectively balances economic, social and environmental priorities".

These are:

  - A tightening up of language. The RTPI says that in parts, the language needs to be tightened up "to avoid ambiguity and legal challenge";

 - The document to have a spatial aspect, "expressing a vision for development for England as a whole, recognising that different parts of the country will be affected differently by policy";

 - NPPF on the face of the Localism Bill. "The status of and procedures for producing and reviewing the NPPF need to be embodied in statute to ensure proper public debate of issues and restore democratic accountability through Parliament", it says;

 - Positive planning needs to be holistic, and not reactive. The Institute says the draft "focuses on providing a basis for determining planning applications rather than genuine place shaping".

RTPI chief executive Trudi Elliott said: "We support the notion of consolidating national planning policy, yet the draft NPPF was in many respects a missed opportunity in that it is not a spatial document. The government now has an opportunity to ensure that the national planning policy framework is a spatially expressed vision for development in England, so that people can see clearly and easily which areas are protected and which are priority areas for growth.

"We are also keenly aware of the need for sensible transitional arrangements, to ensure that the new system is brought in smoothly and efficiently and does not result in a sudden and disastrous halt to sustainable development."

The RTPI’s formal responses to the consultation can be downloaded here.

michael.donnelly@haymarket.com


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