Opinion Former Article

Changes urged to planning framework

Government must provide clear criteria for the siting of new housing to ensure developments meet wider societal objectives around improving air quality, encouraging healthy living and creating inclusive environments.

This is one of the key messages from CIHT’s response to a Government consultation on the draft National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF), which closed last week.

The NPPF aims to bring more land forward for development, including brownfield sites, and ensure permissions are turned into homes as quickly as possible.

But CIHT says vital changes are needed to the framework to bring forward sustainable developments and increase the pace at which proposals clear the planning process. The Institution has also signed a joint letter to Government Ministers alongside several other professional bodies and campaign groups, urging changes to the NPPF.

Many objections to development proposals, the letter says, are made on transport and environmental grounds. Such objections could be pre-empted if the NPPF provided clear criteria for the siting of development, taking account of the full range of Government policy priorities affected, the letter suggests.

Recent figures from the Royal Town Planning Institute – one of the letter’s signatories – showed that only half of housing in 12 fast growing cities in England is built within 2km of a train station.

“For too long, too many homes have been built in the wrong locations with insufficient integrated transport,” said CIHT’s chief executive Sue Percy. “CIHT believes we can, and must, do better.”

The Institution’s response to the NPPF consultation emphasises that delivering homes where single user cars are the encouraged mode of transport requires more land per unit and more expensive infrastructure.

“We believe that our current planning system needs to change and by improving the integration between planning and transport we can deliver improved outcomes for all,” added Sue Percy.

The letter to Ministers also argues that the choice and availability of travel choices must be a key factor for determining the sustainability of a development proposal, adding that site layouts should make appropriate provision for buses, cycling and walking. It also urges transport authorities and operators to be involved throughout the planning process.

Signatories of the joint letter are:

  • CIHT chief executive Sue Percy
  • Transport Planning Society chair Lynda Addison
  • Royal Town Planning Institute chief executive Victoria Hills
  • Living Streets chief executive Joe Irvin
  • Urban Transport Group director Jonathan Bray
  • Town & Country Planning Association head of policy Hugh Ellis
  • Oxford Bus Company managing director Phil Southall
  • Campaign for Better Transport chief executive Stephen Joseph
  • London Forum of Amenity & Civic Societies planning, environment and transport committee chair Michael Bach

CIHT was part of a coalition of six organisations calling for further action to guarantee strategic collaboration on housing across the different tiers of local Government back in March.

The call came in response to the Government’s Housing White Paper and urged stronger measures to ensure encourage county and district councils to work more closely together on new developments.

More Articles by Chartered Institution of Highways & Transportation (CIHT) ...

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