NPPF: On the outside

Since this will be my last blog before the National planning policy framework is set to be released, I thought I’d reflect on just how little we know going into the publication of the final document that is expected (although by no means guaranteed) on the 21st March.

So, who knows what is going to be in the NPPF when it is released on Wednesday? Well, it’s a short list, that’s for sure. It certainly doesn’t include anyone who the BBC’s Sunday Politics has the power to book. Viewers yesterday were instead treated to the bizarre spectacle of the DCLG spokesperson Stephen Hammond giving assurances on a document he hadn’t even been allowed to read himself (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-17421600).

Conservative MPs don’t make the list either (here). It doesn’t include anyone in the government’s advisory bodies like English Heritage or Natural England, and doesn’t include any other environmental or historic environment NGOs either (here). And it doesn’t include the media, who are revelling in rumours derived from various officials who themselves probably haven’t read the final document either.

The government’s strategy in coping with this abhorrent lack of any tangible information seems to be to assure everyone of everything. The exception is George Osborne, whose strategy seems to be to unilaterally declare anything he wants, in the hope that he’s too important not to have the final say on absolutely everything that government does (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/hands-off-our-land/9151464/Hands-Off-Our-Land-Frustrated-Osborne-vows-to-make-building-on-countryside-easier-as-cracks-show-in-Government.html).

How can it be that we are all so on the outside of these reforms? How can it be that the vast majority of expertise relating to heritage, the environment, wildlife, planning and development have been shut out so categorically? How can it be that the government can provide assurances on everything, yet prove nothing, in answer to public scrutiny and media pressure? How can it be that rumour has been the primary source of information in this entire debate?

Conclusions? Whatever happens on Wednesday (and I expect a perfect storm) there have been some serious questions raised about the government’s leadership and handling of the policy drafting process that should not be allowed to be forgotten when we finally see what the new planning system looks like.

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About Rob Lennox

Currently studying at the University of York, investigating the transition in planning-led cultural heritage policy in the last two decades. I am using this blog to share the findings I make during my research with the hope of stimulating debate and increasing understanding of the implications of government policy on the historic environment in England. In particular, my research focuses on the ways in which the public engage with archaeology and the ways in which we as archaeologists or heritage professionals construct the processes of knowledge gathering, and to what ends. I hope that through this blog other interested parties will be able to influence and be influenced by my observations and findings as they occur in real-time, and that ultimately it will contribute to the overall understanding of the heritage sector.
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One Response to NPPF: On the outside

  1. https://www.facebook.com/groups/35514296018/ and http://www.talkswindon.org/index.php/topic,7722.new.html#new will show you how much Swindon citizens want to keep our green and pleasant land unspoiled- but how the local borough council and the Secretary of State have decided to ignore our wishes and allow developers to build on it despite thousands of peoples’ protests. So much for the localism bill.

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