Planning at a national level

View towards the Menai Strait, Gwynedd, North Wales

Across England, Wales and Northern Ireland we look after a quarter of a million hectares of land, 780 miles of coastline, and thousands of archaeological monuments and historic buildings, large and small. Every year many millions of people enjoy the special places in our care.

Our role
As an organisation rooted in the importance of place, the Trust has always looked beyond its own boundaries to achieve its core purpose. Founded to preserve and provide access to places of natural beauty or historic significance, our supporters were a voice against urban sprawl and ribbon development in the 1920s, and advocates of the Town and Country Planning Act, which became law in 1947.
Government's planning rules for housing development and land use
The Government’s National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) is the main set of rules that apply to planning decisions and local plan-making in England. The NPPF, introduced in March 2012, should ensure that development is steered to the most appropriate places. Planning development should not be weighted in the interests of purely economic development, but integrate the needs of people, places and the economy.
When the NPPF was being drawn up, the Prime Minister wrote to the Trust to reassure us that ‘our magnificent countryside’ would continue to be protected. He said the reforms would ‘maintain protections for the green belt, for National Parks and Areas of Outstanding National Beauty,’ and would ‘strengthen local participation’.
Monitoring Government's plan-led system
Since the NPPF came into force in March 2012 we have been checking that the Government’s intentions are being delivered at ground level:
  • In November 2016 a joint report commissioned with Campaign for National Parks and Campaign To Protect Rural England and researched by Sheffield Hallam University, revealed that short term economic priorities are overriding long-established protections and allowing inappropriate development in England's National Parks.
  • In October 2015 we launched a report on which showed that protective policies for England’s Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty aren’t being applied consistently on the ground.
  • In December 2014, we published research suggesting that the Government’s plan-led system is too open to challenge from developers, exposing councils with a Local Plan to speculative proposals.
  • In June 2014, we gave evidence to a House of Commons Committee on the performance of the NPPF.
  • In December 2013, we released evidence showing councils were under increased pressure to release Green Belt land for development.
  • In March 2013, we published research showing that 60 per cent of councils felt the NPPF had not had a positive impact on their ability to deliver a local plan that reflects local needs and priorities.
We will continue to investigate whether improvements can be made to planning rules to ensure we have a fair and balanced process, delivering good development which meets long-term needs.