NPF responds to Government Consultation

The Durham City NPF has responded to the Government’s consultation paper on changes to the National Planning Policy Framework.You can read our response here. We consider that much of the proposed changes to national policy should be welcomed. The emphases on developing brownfield land and small sites are especially relevant and important in Durham City. The key points in our response are:

  • The proposed changes on affordable housing would seem to make it more difficult for local authorities and neighbourhood plans to foster more balanced and sustainable communities.
  • We are delighted that the significance of the green belt policy is recognised; we are fortunate that Durham City has one of the 14 existing green belts in the country. Our green belt is of paramount importance to Durham City and to County Durham.
  • We applaud the proposed substantial weight to be given to the benefits of using brownfield land for housing. However, that development must be in sustainable locations. Regeneration of our town and villages requires not only a ‘presumption in favour of development’ on suitable brownfield land but also financial mechanisms to equalise the costs of developing such land.
  • In particular we welcome proposals that promote the use of small sites and unidentified ‘windfall’ sites within existing settlement boundaries, particularly where these are well-designed to promote or reinforce local distinctiveness.
  • We think it is important to introduce measures such as financial penalties to ensure that once a site has been given planning permission, building goes ahead. We go as far as to suggest that if a developer does not develop a site with planning permission, that permission should be revoked. This would be a powerful disincentive to ‘land banking’.
  • We are very concerned by the suggestion that national policy should be amended so that neighbourhood plans can allocate appropriate small-scale sites in the Green Belt specifically for starter homes. This is a significant relaxation of the current policy protection for Green Belt. It is unjustified, making a trivial contribution to the quantum of housing development needed and yet degrading the very exceptional tests that protect the Green Belt, the most popular of all planning policies.

You can read the consultation paper itself by following that link to the Government website.

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5 Responses to NPF responds to Government Consultation

  1. Chris Arthur says:

    Your priorities are absolutely right- practical and long-term. I can think of a number of brownfield sites crying out for development, but I’m glad to see Faraday Court, beyond Observatory Hill, being developed in the right kind of way at last. Buy-to-let, of course is still a problem in Durham. The university must provide for its own on its own acres!

  2. Chris Arthur says:

    I’m pleased by the emphasis of your statement on the paramount need to preserve our green belt and to use brownfield sites only for any future house building. To allow any further building at all on greenfield sites will be the thin end of the wedge and open the door to still more creeping development. Already our island is overcrowded ( a population of 65 million and growing!) and here in Durham we must play our part of in defending our heritage. The shallow short term, and indeed emotional, responses of so many of our politicians and people in the broadcasting media to the population pressures that we can see around us must be exposed for what they are. So carry on the good work and if I can help just let me know how! Godspeed Chris Arthur

  3. Angela Colbridge says:

    I am delighted that the Forum have taken so much time and effort to compile the above and would agree with your responses however there is one area that never seems to be considered or debated and that is in the heart of our towns and cities. In European Cities, there is always so much more accommodation used above shops. If you take a look around our towns and cities it is quite obvious that many 1st , 2nd & even 3rd floors lie empty, which is an appalling waste .In terms of floor area, collectively it is huge. Instead of keep on spreading outwards, why can we not utilise this space for living accommodation. There are so many benefits to this. For many, the cheaper housing is outside the City but transport costs are disproportionately expensive. If this 1st & 2nd floors have rental income it should reduce the cost of rent on the ground floor, therefore allowing many more local people to open up independent shops. People in the living accommodation could be potential their regular customers. i.e in Paris I have seen a bakers shops below flats with occupants going down daily to buy fresh bread for breakfast!! Having people in the centres at night would become eyes and ears for any unsavory or criminal activity and would possible be a deterrent for such behaviour. It would reinvigorate our Cities which are dying because of out of town shopping malls, which have a huge carbon footprint.Landlords, like the developers above could be made to utilise it or loose it. County Durham could be seen as very forward thinking with a blueprint for towns & cities across the UK?

  4. Dr. Gwendolynn Heley says:

    We are dismayed by the Durham Council Planning Department as they continue to promote a very unbalanced approach to local housing. At the edge of Gilesgate Green, and within a designated Conservation Area, several very large scale multi-storey flats are being erected for hundreds of Durham University students. This has been quickly followed by another massive development for hundreds more students at the foot of Claypath, where our Oldfield’s restaurant is being lost. Why have these areas not been designated for affordable local flats for residents? We have already got too much student accommodation. We live one house away from 97 Gilesgate. The student landlord here has been allowed to ruin the Green in front of the property, leaving piles of rubbish, broken fences and ruined grass for over two years, despite promises by Councillors and the Planning Officer telling us that this mess had to be cleared up. Don’t believe it? Go take a look! Our historic area is being ruined thanks to an indifferent Durham Council who cares nothing for historical Durham. Whose side are they on? Who pays the Council Tax? Not the thousands of students.

  5. fleur griffiths says:

    How can we break the power of big building companies , which outbid smaller ones . Often it is smaller concerns that better reflect housing need . I agree that in Durham , the priority is to preserve the Greenbelt and to use Brownfield sites for houses that are really needed.