Jean Lambert and Keith Taylor, the UK’s Green MEPs have responded to the government’s new planning policy, the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF). Last year Jean and Keith, the Green MEP for the South East, wrote a joint response to the government’s consultation on their draft plan.
Commenting on the final document, the Green MEPs said: “The government’s final National Planning Policy Framework fails to provide a strong national sustainable development framework for development and leaves the door open for development which puts profit first, and people and the environment last.
“Despite the reference to an enhanced definition of sustainable development in the final draft, this is a failed opportunity to really give local people and local authorities the resources they need to achieve true sustainable development. They are being told throughout the document that economic growth is at the centre of sustainable development, and despite the government’s rhetoric for devolved decision making, it holds a knife to local authorities’ back by vetoing any requirements that developers say could make their development unviable.
They continued: “The government has failed to put in place the resources needed for local people from all backgrounds to be meaningfully involved in plan making. Cuts to council funding raise serious doubts about the capacity of local authorities to support community involvement throughout the plan making process, whether at the neighbourhood or district level.
“Worries about funding may also put councils on the backfoot when it comes to challenging unsustainable development that is neither good for local people nor the environment.
“The government blames the planning system for halting economic growth and development. They point the finger at EU Directives for protecting habitats and species, with a mission to water down the regulations and cut ‘red tape’ to business.
They concluded: “Of course good planning must deliver development that people need like affordable housing, sustainable employment, community infrastructure and sustainable transport, but instead of scapegoating the planning system for halting progress, the government should look to its own cuts to the affordable housing budget and the failure of successive UK governments to adequately invest in a sustainable future for the UK for the root cause.”