New guide accused of ‘misrepresenting the planning system’

A government myth-busting guide to the draft National Planning Policy Framework has been accused of misrepresenting the planning system by conservation groups and planning experts.

The communities department published a myth-busting guide to planning on Thursday titled “National Planning Policy Framework: Myth-Buster” to give the public advice on key areas of the planning debate.

The guide provides answers to questions such as whether NPPF is a developers charter, whether communities won’t be able to protect green belt land.

However, the guide comes two days after the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) produced its own myth-busting guide to help the public navigate the complicated and contradictory information available about current planning laws.

A spokesman for the RTPI said “The [government] myth-busting guide is in many ways a compliment and a recognition that there needs to be a proper debate about planning, unfortunately the government seems to have adopted a knee jerk response to the planning debate and is perpetuating certain myths.”

On Tuesday the RTPI set out to dispel the five top current planning myths such as whether the default response to a planning applications was ‘no’; that planning was slow and costly; whether planning was a drag on growth and that planning forces house prices up. The RTPI said that under the current system, only 0.7% of planning applications take longer than 12 months and that over the past decade eight out of ten planning applications had been approved – rising to nine out of ten for major projects.

The Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) also accused the government’s guide of asserting discredited information.

Neil Sinden, CPRE director of policy and campaigns said that the myth-busting guide repeated the flaw in the government’s proposed reforms by misrepresenting the planning system: “This so called Myth busting document is little more than series of reheated, unsubstantiated and discredited assertions.

“Good planning exists to reconcile these sometimes conflicting goals and can enable communities to grow without trashing the environment. To give one aspect - economic growth - excessive weight will not result in sustainable development but a much diminished countryside.”