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.