The government’s draft National Planning Policy Framework should be revised to set out a sustainable vision for England. It should recognise environmental limits as part of sustainable development, remove the presumption in favour of development, promote sustainable economic activity, and recognise the need to address inequality and community involvement.
Instead of localism being about who can shout the loudest, there should be a genuine commitment to letting communities have a say in the economic and environmental factors that influence their lives so much.
The Sustainable Communities Act could require applicants of major developments to:
– attend a meeting of the local Town or Parish Council, or of a duly called Town Meeting, to answer questions on the application for development; and
– fund the council or duly called town meeting to commission an independent report on the application and critique of any reports that the applicant has submitted in support of the application for development.
This would mean that local elected representatives and local people should be making their decision on whether an application should go ahead based on the best evidence, and this would help ensure that evidence was available.
Birmingham should also set out stringent guidelines for developers, so they know exactly what is expected of them when they are applying for planning permission for building new projects or renovating old buildings in the city.