• Local campaigners urge minister to defer planning deadline

    6th March 2013 | News | Claire
  • The East Devon Alliance – see more here – http://saveoursidmouth.com/2013/02/17/the-newly-formed-east-devon-alliance/  has asked Mr Boles to defer the 27 March deadline by one year, to allow councils more time to bring their Local Plans up-to-date.

    The National Planning Policy Framework comes fully into force on 27 March and the government has decreed that any council that hasn’t got an up-to-date Local Plan, will be required to use the NPPF as its primary set of policies for determining planning applications. 

    It will mean that councils will be subject to the NPPF’s presumption in favour of sustainable development and will bring EDDC and many other councils across the country, close to a planning free for all.

    We already have a chaotic planning situation in East Devon thanks to the NPPF’s severe penalties for not being able to demonstrate a five year supply of land for housing.  After the 27 March, assuming the date is retained, things can only get worse.

    If the government had deliberately set out to cause urban sprawl and planning chaos across the country, it couldn’t have done a better job.

    Here is the letter, sent to Mr Boles last week by Sidmouth resident, Mike Temple ………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

    Dear Mr Boles

    We are deeply concerned about the continued deregulation of the planning system.

    The publication of the pro-growth National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) and other government initiatives, such as the Growth and Infrastructure Bill, will have the effect of centralising many decisions that should be taken by local councils, and making it very difficult indeed for councils to reject inappropriate planning applications.

    This difficulty that is already experienced by councils that cannot demonstrate a five year housing supply, will be exacerbated next month as the Government involves a deadline within the NPPF that we believe will have enormous implications for the British countryside and for the ability of many more authorities to refuse inappropriate planning applications.

    This potential environmental disaster (that we believe has already started) will accelerate on 27 March, as the NPPF rules as out-of-date, around one third of councils’ Local Plans.

    This means that dozens of authorities are likely have the ability to use their Local Plans to determine planning applications seriously compromised, for a potentially very long time – until their new Local Plans are adopted.

    The NPPF sets a high bar to justify refusal.

    The NPPF carries little or no protection for the undesignated countryside in its policy section – and although there is some protection for Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty – recent appeal decisions would suggest that this protection has been considerably weakened by the NPPF.

    East Devon District Council (EDDC) is in a doubly invidious position. It will not have an up-to-date Local Plan for around another year or more, and 27 March could cause terrible destruction. But there is another problem. It also does not have a five year land supply either and it is alreadyfinding it very hard to reject inappropriate housing applications.

    Feniton, for example, in Neil Parish’s constituency, could see its housing stock increased by around 300 (growing the village by around 40 percent), based on current planning proposals, which look set to be approved. Feniton is allocated 35 houses in EDDC’s draft Local Plan. The blame for Feniton being swamped by houses residents do not want or need, lies with the NPPF. We believe that this could be the tip of the iceberg.

    It is very probable that this sort of urban sprawl, which wrecks the countryside and overwhelms schools, health facilities, sewage and drains, will be replicated across the country.
    And it will take decades to pick up the pieces.

    The 27 March deadline will make matters even worse (if that’s possible), with EDDC, and at least one third of councils across the country, finding it hard to reject any kind of inappropriate development, being forced to apply the presumption in favour of sustainable development. Despite the word ‘sustainable’ there appears to be little evidence of this requirement in the NPPF in reality.

    The East Devon Alliance is a group of residents from across the district who have come together in desperation to try and save our beautiful district from the bulldozer, which will indiscriminately wreck our lovely area – and very possibly our tourist industry- if the NPPF retains its unbalanced growth-at-all-costs stance.

    We urge you to:
    • defer the 27 March deadline by one year to March 2014, to allow councils a fair and adequate length of time to update their Local Plans
    • restore the balance in the NPPF by strengthening the environmental and social considerations so that they are on an equal footing with economic growth.

    With councils failing on the five year housing land supply rule across the country and around a third of councils having their Local Plans deemed out-of-date on 27 March, we believe that the backlash against the Government, if nothing is done, will be significant.

    We very much hope that you will act in time to avert an impending environmental and infrastructure disaster.

    Yours sincerely
    Michael Temple
    East Devon Alliance