Women in Planning committee members were delighted to attend the revised National Planning Policy Framework launch in London on Monday. Below they each reflect on the day and what it means for the profession. Ellie Gingell, Chair of South Midlands Branch “In the South Midlands, we were keen to hear where the new Garden Towns on the Oxford-MK-Cambridge Corridor were going to be located. Unfortunately, we still have to wait for the final announcements. However, Plan making, including strategic plans, was very much on the agenda through the speeches and into the technical sessions afterward. Even the transitional arrangements (the time in which Local Authorities have to get a plan in place) which, may at first seem strict- a mere 6 months- were defended by Steve Quartermain who was very clear that we’ve had long enough to understand government thinking and their intentions and act accordingly. This will, of course, prove challenging for but is probably a very large carrot disguised as a stick when you reflect on the proposed changes as a whole, for example the Housing Delivery Test. Pondering the day on the train home, the speeches, the amusing memes of Thomas the Tank engine that filled the twitter feed, the strong voices for and those against, and with International Womens Day just around the corner it seemed somewhat apt to reflect on the words of suffragette Lucy Stone: “Now all we need is to continue to speak the truth fearlessly, and we shall add to our number those who will turn the scale to the side of equal and full justice in all things”. It is, after all, a consultation- which is our opportunity to be heard as planning professionals." Alison Mackay, Co-Founder “It was a very busy day for the Planning profession. Prime Minister Theresa May kick-started the launched the consultation of the eagerly anticipated updated National Planning Policy Framework, setting the future for planning policy. With a focus on housing delivery, I am looking forward to reading the consultation document in full but the take home messages from the day were: 1) Greater protection of the Green Belt and ensuring Local Planning Authorities can firmly justify its release; 2) Emphasis on high density with the power to refuse schemes of too lower density and 3) Monitoring of Local Plans to ensure they deliver their adopted strategic visions with consequences for Local Planning Authorities that fail to do so” Charlotte Morphet, Co-Founder “I thought the presence of the Prime Minister at the launch of the National Planning Policy Framework mark 2 was positive. It really showed how far as a profession we have come in the Government eyes. It was also good to have the presence of the Secretary of State. We have moved on from being the enemies of enterprise to important profession and process in the delivery of housing. I am reserving judgement on the content of the consultation documents until I have read them all; but I can be certain of one thing, Local Planning Authorities need more resources to deliver the Governments ambitions plans for homes and communities.” Sara Sweeney, London Branch Committee member “It certainly was not an average Monday hearing about the proposed revisions to the NPPF first-hand from the Prime Minster and the Secretary of State. What I took from the day was that the ultimate aspiration of the Government is to build a Britain that is fit for purpose and that means delivering the right homes, in the right places. As a Planner with a particular passion for strategic planning and the delivery of housing, I welcome many of the proposed revisions to help streamline the plan-making process (after all this is supposed to be a plan-led system) but I will reserve judgement until I’ve holistically read the consultation documents and considered the implications on the ground. Albeit, the Developer in me feels massively underwhelmed and under attack. Developers will continue to “step up” to build homes, but in my opinion the anti-developer culture needs to change as the industry is not to blame for the housing crisis. I can attest that I have never been asked to promote a site for housing or submit a planning application with the intention to “sit on the land and watch the value rise”. There needs to be some realism here, the development industry does not operate within a vacuum that is not exposed to wider economic factors. Stable economic conditions create the environment in which developers can deliver more homes. No private sector entity would be expected to deliver without profit and it should be no different for the development industry.” The consultation proposals can be found on the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government website (click here).