Greg Clark, the minister responsible for the draft National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF), has drafted in the big boys to try and quash the campaign that exists to clarify points within the proposed new framework.
George Osbourne and Eric Pickles have chosen to publish an article in the Financial Times newspaper. This comes after Greg Clark MP exclusively gave an interview to the FT on the 23rd Aug criticising the National Trusts campaign. A telling choice of newspaper, showing us exactly who their target audience is. Business not the public. Is that the actions of a government that truly believes in Big Society/Localism? The language used in the piece is shocking. They talk of “winning this battle” and “fighting”. When did our right to campaign become something our government had to battle against?
If they just answered the questions campaign groups have posed; clearly, honestly and without spin, we wouldn’t be in this strange position of ‘them against us’. Why can’t they answer our questions? They say in their article that ‘the government is ready to debate the framework’. So answer our questions! That would be a fantastic start and would help to quell the rising suspicion of the public that is being fuelled by the frankly aggressive tone of ministers so far.
Whether the National Trust and the CPRE, et al, are right or wrong in their campaigning, there is no denying that it’s these well respected NGO’s that have brought the huge changes to our planning policy into the public sphere. The NPPF could fundamentally change the nature of our landscapes (urban & rural) and as such the general public has a right to know about it.
No one is saying that our planning system doesn’t need reform, no one is suggesting that the countries prosperity and the future needs of our burgeoning population shouldn’t be catered for, as the article by our chancellor of the exchequer and communities secretary suggests campaign groups are saying.
They’re clearly missing the point when it comes to land classifications too. There is thousands of hectares of green spaces within our towns and cities that aren’t classified with a protective SSSI or AONB but that are VITAL for the well being of the local communities. How does the NPPF recognise this?
Yet again I will ask THE question the government have consistently avoided and failed to answer. What is your definition of sustainable development? Unless this is clearly defined, either within the NPPF or a planning guidance document, the NPPF can not be accepted as sustainable.
Don’t forget, if you’re on social media to share these links with your friends and followers and tweet your questions about the NPPF using the #NPPF hashtag.
This is OUR landscape!