Hansard’s record of the 24.4.12 NPPF mini-debate

Hansard ‘s record of the 24.4.12 NPPF mini-debate

Part 1 of 2
Read it here: http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201212/cmhansrd/cm120424/debtext/120424-0003.htm#12042487000001
The House of Commons’ National Planning Policy Framework debate , scheduled for the 3:30 – 10pm session, did not begin until 9:34pm.  The chamber was not exactly heaving with MP’s it has to be said.  Of the local MP’s who might have bothered to be there, only Pavilion’s Green MP, Caroline Lucas spoke or appeared to be in attendance.  There were maybe 20 MP’s in attendance, I’d say.  Max.
The Opposition Labour MP’s request for a rescheduling of this important debate, was casually rebuffed.   So we got only 26 minutes and a promise that debate would continue “in the days ahead”.  When?  In little gaps here and there or all of a piece with a proper time slot?
One important answer was provided to a Member asking if the Planning Inspectorate could over-ride decisions.  The Minister replied that after the NPPF was enacted on 27th March, he met with Planning Inspectors and made it clear to them that they must respect that this is a Local document (!).  This was airily dismissive, bonkers stuff – so casually tossed off. 
We now require clarification on what powers the Planning Inspectorate still has.  MP’s will hopefully ask this question in any forthcoming scheduling of further NPPF debate.
There was an ironic question from the Opposition at the end.  The Minister was crowing about, and citing, all the various organisations giving positive reactions to the final draft (as it concerned their own representations, it must be stressed) and in an intervention, he was asked if he’d had any letters of congratulation from planning lawyers.  The handful of MP’s attending laughed and the answer was, of course, no.
The NPPF is a job-creation scheme for the legal profession and this city is not rich enough to bankroll what lies ahead for it.  The Planning Committee and planning officers will refuse fewer of the applications deserving refusal because of lack of funding and reduced staffing levels.  Planning.  Officers have to attend Appeals.  And not just case officers either. 
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