There’s an interesting convergence emerging in the amongst all the claims and counter-claims surrounding the NPPF consultation. The coming together is in respect of the comments made by John Howell, self-confessed author of the Tories Open Source Planning document and those made by the likes of Pickles and Clark, about what the term sustainable development actually means and how it came into being.
John Howell claims that the presumption in favour term was never meant to refer to individual planning applications, but only to development plans. The problem is, the NPPF refers to plans and decision making in the same sentence over and over again, lending a lie to John Howell’s claims.
Where the convergence comes, is in the claims being made, the latest in a speech today by Eric Pickles, that the presumption in favour of development has always been in the planning regulations in some form. However, dig down and you find that the presumption that has existed in the regulations, actually referred to land that had already been zoned, or identified as suitable for development. Put another way, it is land that is allocated, as in a local plan site allocations map.
So John Howell is right in that respect, the presumption was supposed to be all about plan making, not about individual applications. The problem seems to be, that those responsible for the NPPF, the so called wide ranging expert group, appear to have bastardised the presumption term into the catchall statement that is now causing us all so much angst.