Is it possible that government will ever trust local government, or are we to be condemned to a constant tirade of abuse from Eric Pickles, combined with the sham politics that is called Localism?
The NPPF is a major worry to many organisations concerned about caring for the green areas of this country (and not just the Green Belt I hope). Yet, despite all the detailed concerned being put forward by the experts, I think there are a few reasonable changes that could be made to overcome the vast majority of the public’s concerns at least.
The first of these would be to delete the statement that, where a local plan is silent, indeterminate or out of date, planning permission should be given. This requirement puts too much pressure on councils and will either see local plans being rushed through, or great resent being generated in the communities the government claims to want to empower, when development is imposed on them.
The second thing government should do, is delay the implementation of the NPPF, in order to give councils a sensible time period to deliver their local plans.
Third, government should make it a requirement for councils to produce an evidence based assessment of their local housing need. This in itself would not be any easy exercise, as a significant amount of local information and forecasting would be needed to achieve the required evidence base. However, once done, as well as placing a requirement on a council to deliver that housing, it would put that council in control and not the developers.
Of course such changes would suggest that government was willing to trust local government to deliver and with people like Eric Pickles in the government it’s difficult to see that happening.