The British Property Federation has called for both sides of the raging dispute over planning reform to work together following reassurances from the Prime Minister David Cameron that he will "cherish and protect" the English countryside.
The letter was published ahead of a seminar hosted by the British Property Federation tomorrow morning at which Planning Minister Greg Clark, National Trust director general Dame Fiona Reynolds and British Chambers of Commerce director of policy and external affairs Dr Adam Marshall will discuss the proposed National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF).
The PM intervened in the controversy today, insisting in a letter to the National Trust that the purpose of reform was to create a streamlined system that balanced environmental, social and economic need, and which handed extra power to communities to shape development.
BPF chief executive Liz Peace said: "The Prime Minister’s assurances that the draft NPPF does indeed mean what it says are welcome. Hopefully they will set the stage for a constructive debate that will help us to reform our glacially-slow planning system.
"As ministers consult on the draft NPPF it is entirely right that legitimate concerns are raised, and that these are discussed in a level-headed way. We have been in contact with a range of groups, including the National Trust and the RSPB, to find common ground. Indeed this has always been our preferred way of working to achieve sensible compromise."
The BPF has made clear its support for the draft NPPF, believing it will help to streamline England’s bureaucratic planning system and allow good development that is wanted by local communities to be built more quickly. It will also encourage councils to get on with producing local plans that offer certainty to businesses, developers, residents and those seeking to protect the countryside from unnecessary or unacceptable development.
However, the BPF has suggested that there should be further consideration on what needs to be done to persuade local authorities to draw up good local plans, to ensure brownfield land is, where feasible, developed before greenfield sites and to understand better what constitutes truly ‘sustainable’ development.