By Maximilian Clarke

Public consultation over the government’s draft National Planning Policy Framework drew to a close earlier today (Monday), drawing plaudits from business organisations as well as fierce opposition from communities and conservationists.

Reform is being executed with the intention of stripping thousands of pages of complex planning policy to just 58; a move that the Institute of Directors (IoD) have welcomed as essential for development and economic growth:

“The IoD strongly supports the Government’s aim to produce a planning system which recognises the many benefits of development,” commented Simon Walker, Director General of the Institute of Directors. “The presumption in favour of sustainable development means that where applications fit with local plans they should be granted as quickly as possible. Where plans are not in place, this should not be a reason for denying permission. Planning reform will provide a boost not only for developers and the construction industry, but also for businesses wishing to extend or improve their properties and for people wanting to buy their own homes.

Opposition to the draft reforms, however, is strong, with a petition hosted by the National Trust calling to halt the new framework receiving its 200,000th signatory today. Campaigners feel the new framework panders to the needs of developers, putting the private profit incentive ahead of the need to protect common land.

“This is precisely why we will continue to do everything we can to make sure the Government takes seriously our concerns, and the resulting planning system is one which balances the needs of society, the environment and the economy,” said Peter Nixon, Director of Conservation at the National Trust in an article for the Telegraph.

The IoD insist that reform is unlikely to pander to developers given the implementation of alternative legislation that gives more power to local residents, adding:

“We don’t want to see inappropriate or damaging building, and we don’t think the new framework would produce this. Economic factors should be weighed against social and environmental factors. Existing environmental protections are maintained, and with the Localism Bill on the way, communities will soon have a whole variety of new ways to control their local environments. The Government should press on full-steam ahead with the introduction of the framework, and should resist calls to change it substantially. ”

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