National Planning Policy Framework

Greg Clark MP has today launched the much vaunted new Planning Policy Framework from the Coalition which and can be seen in its entirety here. We have had a quick read and pick out a few bits below.

In the forward he says

…Sustainable development is about change for the better, and not only in our built environment.

Our natural environment is essential to our wellbeing, and it can be better looked after than it has been. Habitats that have been degraded can be restored. Species that have been isolated can be reconnected. Green Belt land that has been depleted of diversity can be refilled by nature – and opened to people to experience it, to the benefit of body and soul.

Further on, in defining what the policy is aiming for it states

an environmental role – contributing to protecting and enhancing our natural, built and historic environment; and, as part of this, helping to improve biodiversity, use natural resources prudently, minimise waste and pollution, and mitigate and adapt to climate change including moving to a low carbon economy.

Further on still it states

take account of the different roles and character of different areas, promoting the vitality of our main urban areas, protecting the Green Belts around them, recognising the intrinsic character and beauty of the countryside and supporting thriving rural communities within it

This may give some hope that Green Belt land is being protected under the new framework and environmental considerations are to the forefront of planning decisions.

Under point 9 of the framework, Protecting Greenbelt Land it states

The Government attaches great importance to Green Belts. The fundamental aim of Green Belt policy is to prevent urban sprawl by keeping land permanently open; the essential characteristics of Green Belts are their openness and their permanence.

The problem in Rochford is that the District Council is going to re-designate Greenbelt land so that it will no longer be Greenbelt land and therefore it can be developed on. To us this seems contrary to this policy and worthy of challenge.

The Council is in a position to review the Core Strategy and rework it in line with this policy, such an opportunity would allow the earlier mistakes to be removed and the proposals put forward through the public consultation adopted.

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