CPRE concerned that proposed changes to planning system will put countryside at increased risk

Hulton Park

27th January 2016

In its response to the consultation on proposed changes to National Planning Policy, CPRE has called into question the effectiveness of the proposals, saying they are likely to make the planning system operate less efficiently, putting the countryside at increased risk.

The Department for Communities and Local Government are consulting on proposed changes to National Planning Policy.

The consultation closes on 22 February 2016.

The consultation is is seeking views on specific changes to National Planning Policy, such as:

– broadening the definition of affordable housing, to expand the range of low cost housing opportunities for those aspiring to own their new home,
– increasing residential density around commuter hubs, to make more efficient use of land in suitable locations,
– supporting sustainable new settlements, development on brownfield land and small sites, and delivery of housing allocated in plans, and
– supporting delivery of starter homes.

While the government is concerned that the current NPPF is not accelerating house building at the rate they intended, particularly the building of affordable housing, CPRE believe the suggested changes fail to address the supposed problem and are likely to make the planning system operate less efficiently, putting the countryside at increased risk.

Brian Wood, Chairman of CPRE Oxfordshire sums up CPRE’s concerns as follows:

“A major opportunity has been missed to put right the obvious flaws in the way the NPPF is operating.he Government should be trying to work in tandem with local authorities on agreed procedures.

The problems lie not with the NPPF but, firstly, with the SHMAs which the Government imposes. Because these are so recklessly overstated, and because Councils fail to accept them at their peril, the impression is given that far more houses must be built than actual need requires. This supposed deficit is at the root of the Government’s panic, and is easily resolved by reducing SHMAs to local need alone.

Secondly the constant hinting that yet more valuable land will be released unless the SHMA’s notional targets are met, has the effect of halting the development of already released sites in the hope of yet more profitable sites being released.

Ending the false panic would go a long way to unblocking development.

For these reasons we do not believe that the changes proposed will have anything like the effect the government is clearly hoping for.

The minor redefinition of affordable homes may have a slight effect. But most people who need them cannot afford affordable homes anyway.

There are ways of ensuring that planning permissions are carried out. We totally oppose the idea of additional sustainable sites. This worsens the problems that currently arise from five year supply, and increase the opportunity for developers to cherry pick the most profitable sites. There is absolutely no reason to suppose it will increase the amount of house building.

Rather than antagonise district councils, by encroaching even further onto their authority, and putting more burdens on their planning departments, the Government should be trying to work in tandem with local authorities on agreed procedures.”

See: CPRE Oxfordshire’s response to the consultation below.

If you would like to respond go to the DCLG website.


CPRE Oxfordshire, 27 January 2016