As the NPPF consultation draws to a close, few will have escaped the headlines capturing the National Trust's campaign for a number of amendments to the draft document. The Trust has issued a "wishlist" of ten amendments, that it wants to see picked up in the next draft. One of these, which is a point picked up by several others, is a wish to have a clear statement confirming the preference of development on brownfield land. The Government has said on a number of occasions that it has "heard" this request, but elsewhere has pointed out that such a preference may not actually have the intended result as it could result in the development of land that has actually been restored to a high "green" standard, post-development.
It may be worth a quick reminder of the status of the NPPF. This will be a material consideration, to be considered and weighed up with all other material considerations, by the decision maker. Planning applications must still be determined in accordance with the development plan, unless material considerations indicate otherwise.
The National Trust has requested a right of appeal for third parties should a decision be taken which is not in accordance with the development plan. For the reason set out above, this will be a significant number of cases and, in our view, is unlikely to be acceptable to a Government which is trying to promote economic growth and development.
The Government will of course be required to take the Trust's consultation response into account in preparing its revised draft, but it will do this against the backdrop of its current strategic aims to promote growth. We will need to wait and see what balance it strikes.