The Institute of Historic Building Conservation (IHBC) has endorsed the widespread concerns over what is emerging as the draft National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF), a version produced by a small government-appointed panel representing practitioners.
The re-casting of ‘sustainable development’ as a driver of growth is causing particular concern over the uncertainty it will bring to the recovery.
Jo Evans, IHBC Chair, said: ‘The heritage sector should take real pride in the fact that heritage has been given such a high profile in this key document, and deservedly so. It reflects the ever-increasing awareness that our heritage can underpin the economic recovery. Whether as a catalyst for the economy, as a key to our future low carbon environment, or as the most publicly accessible resource for culture and tourism, our heritage today underpins our future well-being.’
‘However there’s also huge concern over the re-casting of sustainable development as some sort of simple engine of growth, rather than its manager. To suggest that ‘without growth, a sustainable future cannot be achieved’ misses the point: that government is responsible for framing growth, but planning uses the principles of sustainable development to manage and promote it!.’
‘Up-ending the fundamentals of sustainability like this means that government can only spread uncertainty in the planning system. Through making the process even more opaque, it will threaten our recovery rather than underpin it’.
IHBC President Eddie Booth said: ‘The IHBC has long said that, properly drafted and supported, the NPPF could be a short, sharp, pithy document fit for purpose in the planning system. Fully integrated with wider planning policy, guidance and advice, including spatial policy, there is no reason why it should not do the job the Coalition seeks. What we see here, however, is a kind of mosaic of occasional insight laid on the flimsiest of surfaces, that re-spinning of the sustainability agenda.’
IHBC Policy Chair Mike Brown said: ‘We agree with the wide-ranging concerns already raised over the NPPF draft. Its dubious revisionist approach to sustainability only serves to highlight the urgent need for formal recognition of the importance of our heritage as a resource for the future – economic and environmental as well as cultural. If it recognises that, the NPPF can then identify how that resource can be competently managed through consent processes that are properly resourced’.
Download the IHBC’s initial response, from February 2011, on the NPPF proposals: HERE
For background and links see: LINK