The Historic Towns Forum has warned that the government’s streamlined National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) is too vague and could deter investment
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The organisation has also raised concerns about the lack of priority given to design and heritage protection and claims it overlooks ‘the inherent sustainability of historic towns’.
A spokesman said: ‘The document is less clear than existing policy and is too open to interpretation. To enable economic development, investment and growth, which is the intention, the planning system needs to provide certainty.
‘This is essential for creating investor confidence. It is likely therefore that the NPPF will have a negative impact on investor confidence.’
The forum’s director, Noël James, added: ‘The NPPF should be written to apply to all of the country, not just higher growth areas like the south-east.’
‘Town and country planning should be a single activity. Our urban and rural settlements are mutually dependent. National planning policies must strengthen the bonds between communities and not become a means of exclusion.’
Meanwhile the shadow Communities Minister, Labour MP Jack Dromey, has demanded that the coalition give Parliament a chance to vote on the proposed, slimline framework.
He said: ‘The Tories have thrown the planning system into chaos, scrapping the existing system. In the meantime, investment by house builders, developers, energy companies, and transport organisations has been put off due to the uncertainty, damaging house building and economic growth.
‘Far from solving this mess the National Planning Policy Framework will only make things worse.’
He added: ‘The Government has tried to bypass MPs and ignore the concerns of local people and communities. Rather than attempting to steam roll these disastrous changes through they need to sit down and start listening to people’s genuine concerns. And then at the end of a real consultative process, they should give Parliament a vote so that we have a planning system that the public trusts.’