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Cornwall needs its own National Planning Policy Framework
"As a local councillor, I was heavily involved in the production of the Cornwall Local Plan. This contains Cornwall’s present housing target, which covers the period 2010-2030, but the process of finalising the target was a charade and local politicians ended up having to agree what was acceptable to the UK Government."
The UK Government recently launched a consultation on a revised version of its National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) which dictates how local councils deal with planning matters.

The NPPF has often been described as a “developers’ charter” and the so-called “presumption in favour” of growth has certainly led to much development which has been opposed by local communities.

I am presently working my way through the document and trying to understand the implications of the changes. A briefing from Cornwall Council states that there are over 80 reforms, though “mostly these are minor changes” or clarifications of ministerial statements.

But this includes confirmation that housing targets for council areas will be calculated using a top-down “standard method,” and Cornwall Council has already advised that “the scope for local influence over the target is very small to nil.”

As a local councillor, I was heavily involved in the production of the Cornwall Local Plan. This contains Cornwall’s present housing target, which covers the period 2010-2030, but the process of finalising the target was a charade and local politicians ended up having to agree what was acceptable to the UK Government.

This latest NPPF announcement finally removes the illusion that such important decisions are actually being taken locally. 

In addition, the revised NPPF confirms that an uplift in housing delivery would happen in 2021, from which point it would be expected that 2,900 new properties should be built each year – up from the annual target of 2,625 in the Local Plan.

The tone of the consultation launch was also quite bombastic. The Housing Minister, Sajid Javid, announced that the UK Government would take planning powers away from local councils if they did not meet central government targets for house-building.

He even told a Sunday newspaper that he would be “breathing down” the necks of local authorities and threatened that, instead of councillors, government inspectors could make planning decisions in their areas.

On behalf of MK, I condemned the threat as an “undemocratic outrage.” It will certainly take local planning decisions even further away from local communities, and I do not believe, for one second, that Government officials inside the M25 corridor know what is best for Cornwall and its people.

If remains my view that the people of Cornwall should be making these important decision for ourselves. That means we need a National Assembly of Cornwall, with power over all aspects of planning and housing through a Cornish NPPF which would allow housing and other targets to be agreed locally without interference from Whitehall.

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By Dick Cole. Published on 17th April 2018.

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"As a local councillor, I was heavily involved in the production of the Cornwall Local Plan. This contains Cornwall’s present housing target, which covers the period 2010-2030, but the process of finalising the target was a charade and local politicians ended up having to agree what was acceptable to the UK Government."
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