The Sutton Poyntz Society is affiliated to the Dorset Branch of the CPRE (Campaign to Protect Rural England).

Our representative attended the Annual General Meetings of the West Dorset Group on 24th October 2011, and of the Dorset Branch on 19th November, and writes:

"Peter Jones attended the West Dorset Group AGM of our affiliated organisation, The Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE). The Group chairman gave an overview of their activities and laid particular emphasis on the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) that ihas recently been published. CPRE have urged the government to have a rethink of the document's wording and provisions.

Matters for concern are that:

  • There is a presumption to agree applications, rather than consider them on their merit which changes the rules in favour of developers.
  • Undeveloped land may be at risk in a shake-up of planning laws. There is a presumption to say “yes” to applications which support sustainable development.
  • There is no definition of "sustainable development" in the context of the NPPF. Is it sustainable for the developer, the business, the economy or the environment?
All applications for development will have to be Plan Led. For a local plan to be up to date, under the new national planning rules, it must detail specific sites for development. Weymouth and Portland’s Plan is in the process of adjustment to cope with the requirements of the policy framework. The Chairman stated however that not all Dorset councils can rely on its adopted Core Strategy as a defence against developers.

The campaign group is worried the changes in the policy could see developments on green belt land because these are usually cheaper than using "brownfield" sites. Furthermore there is no statement in the NPPF that "brownfield" sites are a priority for development thus putting pressure on "greenfield”

At a recent meeting in London the Chairman obtained a reassurance from Oliver Letwin MP that CPRE will be able to comment on the Draft NPPF document.

More recently Peter attended the AGM of the Dorset Branch of CPRE. The speaker was Shaun Spiers, the Chief Executive of national CPRE. He reinforced the above statements and was not optimistic that major changes will be made to the NPPF; he contends that in its Draft form it favours the developers

CPRE (Dorset) continues to monitor major planning applications and in particular those related to alternative energy eg. Windfarms (on and off shore) and solar arrays
."