Clarity that protected landscapes need not be sacrificed for housing targets

Michael Gove announces new National Planning Policy Framework

A new National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) was published this week, launched by Michael Gove, Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities in a speech at the Royal Institute of British Architects.

The NPPF is an important document for guiding how positive development could be done in National Landscapes. For example, it contains a ‘test’ for major development: that it should only be done in exceptional circumstances, and if it is in the public interest. In theory, this should help to produce housing and building that is fit for the real needs of the rural communities that live and work in National Landscapes: for example, smaller, more affordable and more socially and community-oriented developments.

(c) Amber Carter Malvern Hills NL - Misty View from British Camp (c) Amber Carter

Properly planned housing brings multiple benefits to local communities – providing homes in keeping with local areas, that enable families to energise the local economy and keep communities thriving. Well-planned development also retains and enhances natural beauty and the sense of place that is so valued by residents and visitors.

Introducing the revisions, Mr Gove gave a stronger steer on the priority that needs to be given to nature protections and our precious green spaces over housing targets, saying:

Local authorities have the comfort of knowing that they need not re-draw the green belt or sacrifice protected landscapes to meet housing numbers.

Michael Gove, Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities

Our colleagues in CPRE The Countryside Charity, have welcomed the revisions to the NPPF, but suggest where they do not go far enough. As part of a more detailed statement, the CPRE CEO Roger Mortlock says:

We need a brownfield-first policy with teeth, coupled with targets on social-rent homes to deliver genuinely affordable homes close to where people live, work and go to school.

Roger Mortlock, CEO, CPRE The Countryside Charity

The National Landscapes Association will be reviewing the changes in full, but we hope that these revisions will help to provide of the type of housing the UK really needs, while upholding robust protections for our valuable designated landscapes.