NCRA NewsMail

2 February 2018

NEWS FROM THE SECRETARY: Changes in Planning policy

For an Association which has as one of its key Objectives the protection of the Green Belt, monitoring changes in planning policy, both national and local, is vital - as is submitting its views on proposals. The hope for the future is that the aspirations of the London Green Belt Council - of which our Association is a member - will be achieved (see our NewsMail of 1 January 2018). Currently, there are three important changes to planning policy under way and the outcome of two of them, Bexley's Growth Strategy document and the new London Plan, will determine Bexley's Local Plan.

Bexley's Growth Strategy This is an evidence-based document that seeks to maximise the benefits of growth and infrastructure investment in the five main growth areas of Thamesmead, Belvedere, Erith, Slade Green and Crayford. It has just been approved after two years of public consultation, and it sets out the Council's long-term vision and principles for good growth, particularly over the 30 years from 2020 to 2050. An important outcome is the value Bexley places on the natural environment and its wish to ensure that it remains a recreational and leisure resource that enhances the quality of life of residents as well as providing habitat for a range of protected species (para 2.6). To read the Growth Strategy document follow this Link

London Plan This is a new strategic plan for London which will shape how it evolves and develops. Published on 30 November, it is now at the Consultation stage. Its proposed Policy G2 is of particular interest to us as it states that the Green Belt should be protected from inappropriate development and that development proposals that harm it should be refused. It goes even further than this in saying that despite some parts of the Green Belt having become derelict and unsightly, this is not an acceptable reason to allow development to take place. This is a welcome proposal because Planning recently used the 'derelict buildings' argument in its Recommendation to Bexley's Planning Committee that the Green Belt site at Orchard View Farm should be developed for housing. Happily, this was rejected (see our NewsMail of 23 December 2017). If this part of the draft London Plan is adopted, it gives us hope for the future! To read the analysis provided by the CPRE (Campaign for the Protection of Rural England), follow this Link.

To read the draft London Plan, and to comment on it before the public Consultation period ends on 2 March 2018, see our NewsMail of 26 January 2018.

National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) This is the government's guidance for Local Planning Authorities. The current version dates from in 2012. A review of this all-important National guidance is pending.

The threat to the Green Belt comes from government pressure on Local Planning Authorities to release land for housing. This is why the recent formation of an All Party Parliamentary Group for London's Green Belt is so welcome (see our NewsMail of 1 November). We also have the continuing support of our MP, James Brokenshire, who recently wrote to us to reassure us that the government has reconfirmed its commitment to protecting the Green Belt from inappropriate development and to tell us about the ambitious programme to bring brownfield land back into use - thereby ensuring that development is prioritised on brownfield sites rather than at the expense of our countryside. We have also been assured by Bexley's Planning Strategy team that no Green Belt land will be put on Bexley's register of brownfield land. Instead, the focus will be on 'true' brownfield land, ie land that is suitable for developers to use for large-scale housing developments.

Jean Gammons