Alliance representation to DCLG on the Local Plans Expert Group Report
The Heritage Alliance, through our Spatial Planning Advocacy Group, has made representation to DCLG on the Local Plans Expert Group Report. The deadline for this was 27 April 2016.
The Alliance welcomed the proactive step by DCLG to consider how Local Plan making can be made more efficient and effective. To this end we submitted evidence to the Local Plans Expert Group in October 2015. The Group presented its Report to ministers on 16 March 2016.
The Alliance supports a Local Plan-led approach to development, which protects the natural and historic environments and involves local communities, supported by the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) and associated guidance. This has served to protect the historic environment while allowing appropriate development. We are disappointed that four years after NPPF was published, 17% of Local Planning Authorities (LPAs) have still not published Local Plans and 34% have not yet adopted Plans. We support the Report's recommendation that plan-making should be a statutory LPA duty, with timely production of plans for sustainable development that allow local people to remain engaged in the development in their community.
We also urge that a statutory duty be placed on Local Authorities to provide historic environment services. Professional planning advice and a well-maintained HER are critical for local economic growth and development, by allowing commercial firms to meet statutory requirements more promptly, for specialists to provide an early indication of the impact on heritage assets, and help to prevent wasted applications, unmanaged risk (and compensation), and minimise unplanned costs and delays to development. For the Local Authorities, properly managed information underpins their museum and archive services as well as their planning advice including that relating to agri-environment schemes. Now, with mass public asset transfer ahead, there is an even more urgent need to know and understand the significance of what assets they own.
The Heritage Alliance has made representation to government on several occasions in recent months on proposed changes to planning policy, responding to the CLG Select Committee inquiry into Consultation on National Planning Policy, the DCLG National Planning Policy: consultation on proposed changes, the DCLG Technical consultation on implementation of planning changes and the DCLG/Defra Rural Planning Review. We are exceedingly concerned that the cumulative effect of the proposed measures is to skew the presumption in favour of sustainable development, as enshrined in NPPF, towards a presumption in favour of meeting Objectively Assessed Need for Housing.
The Heritage Alliance believes that our heritage is one of our greatest national assets. It is a source of national pride and an engine for economic growth as widely demonstrated in the social, economic, environmental and cultural impacts. To ensure that these benefits are realised by government, businesses, communities and individuals, it is vital that changes to planning policy maintain and improve the existing level of protection.
Several Alliance members have also submitted responses to the Local Plans Expert Group’s Report, including Civic Voice and The Theatres Trust. A full round up will be supplied in a future issue of Heritage Update.
The Heritage Alliance's representation can be read here.
The Alliance has also written to Clive Betts MP, the Chair of the CLG Select Committee, in response to publication of the committee's Report on consultation on national planning policy. Akin to the Local Plans Expert Group, the committee has also called upon government to place a statutory duty on the creation and maintenance of Local Plans.