Kate Henderson, the Town and Country Planning Association’s (TCPA) Chief Executive, reflects on the National Planning Policy Framework

09 Aug 2012 12:11 pm

The planning movement has been one of the most influential mechanisms for delivering sustainable development and social justice for over a century.   It began as a visionary and progressive force, a movement which blended utopian garden cities with environmental protection and a radical idea about redistributing resources for ordinary people.


Many have argued though that in the last few decades planning has become increasingly bureaucratic as well as disconnected from local people. In response to this, the Government has set about a radical reform to the planning system with two primary goals; to shift power from the centre to the local and community level through the Localism Act and to promote economic growth through a series of deregulatory reforms to the planning system.


The Government's National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) seeks to simplify and streamline planning policy. For the TCPA, our key objective is to ensure that the new framework delivers visionary and workable Local Plans, creating a strong and fair economy without undermining the quality of life of local people, or the environment.


The media debate that surrounded the publication of the draft NPPF last summer put housing and the environment as diametric opposites, even if this was not the view of the organisations whose voices were involved. This was unhelpful in moving the debate away from how we would meet our urgent housing demand, promote economic growth and secure the future of our natural environment. At the very heart of the planning movement is to hold ideas of social justice and protecting and enhancing the natural environment together.


In fact, the final NPPF published in March assuaged many of those earlier fears by including a reference to the 2005 Sustainable Development Strategy definition, and along with a tightening up of the wording around the presumption in favour of sustainable development, it has re-asserted the plan-led system to decision making. Crucially, the Local Plan will remain the corner stone of decision making and local authorities should ensure they get their plans in place.


In short, the Government has produced a new planning policy framework which has sufficiently moved on to meet the demands of those who wanted to see the environment given greater recognition whilst still retaining the pro-growth rhetoric. At the TCPA we will be working with our cross-sector membership, including the Good Homes Alliance, to move from the policy debate into plan-making in practice. The key test for the NPPF will now be whether it delivers truly sustainable places and lifestyles as well as opportunities for new jobs and business.

-Kate Henderson, Chief Executive, TCPA

The GHA and TCPA will be exploring this further

TCPA/GHA seminar: 'Going Local - neighbourhoods in control'
11.00 - 16.00, Tuesday 06 November 2012
TCPA, 17 Carlton House Terrace, London




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