Press Release Archive:

Civic Society Swells National Planning Protest (November 2011)

Maidenhead Civic Society is lending its weight to a national campaign in protest at proposed changes to national planning guidelines.
The Society says that plans to streamline planning regulations in a new National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) threaten to remove the protection offered to communities and the countryside by policies like Conservation Areas, Areas of Outstanding National Beauty and the Green Belt.
"Simplifying planning policy and procedure is a noble aim and reducing more than 1,000 pages to just 52, which the draft NPPF does, is no mean achievement. But undermining protective policies, which have thoughtfully evolved over 50 years, is verging on vandalism," said Martin McNamee, chair of the Society's planning group. "It's as though what's been important for decades suddenly doesn't matter any more. There will be a presumption in favour of development."
Writing in the November edition of Maidenhead Civic Society News, the Society's quarterly newsletter, Mr McNamee says the government's aim with the NPPF is growth, based on an unsubstantiated claim that the economy loses 3 billion p.a. through planning inefficiency. "The current recession is the product of many diverse factors but a planning malaise is not one of them," he says. "Of course we have a housing shortage but it is too simple to blame the planning system which is in place to provide checks and balances to protect our landscape - both rural and urban."
The Civic Society is supporting a national campaign being led by Civic Voice, the national charity for the civic society movement, CPRE and the National Trust. It also welcomed the fact that the Royal Borough has expressed serious reservations about a number of elements in the draft guidelines.
The Society has submitted its own comprehensive response to a public consultation on the NPPF. Among a series of criticisms levelled at the proposals, it said:
- The presumption in favour of sustainable development is itself unsustainable
- Although localism is fostered, communities have no right of appeal
- The default answer of "yes" to any planning application will lead to a free-for-all and local authorities may lose control of planning
- The long-term protection of Green Belt will no longer apply