The Campaign Against Sprawl is the moderate voice of the opposition to the NPPF; instead of jumping into the cauldron of vitriol which has been omnipresent since the publication of the draft NPPF for consultation it has worked hard to come up with a readable, usable alternative to what is on offer from the Government. It is largely the work of one man, Andrew Lainton a planning and regeneration consultant based in London.
The CAS 2nd draft was released at the weekend and by a very modest increase in pages has turned the format of the DCLG draft NPPF that was easily one of the worst in Europe, into one that if adopted would be a gold standard.
By referral to UK and International laws and treaties, demonstration and graphic illustration and firm definitions of a sustainable development platform to work from, it simply works. On perusal there was one key factor; the notion that it allows for the developing towards sustainability rather than just an acceptance that we must constrain ourselves and our growing population to have to cope with sustainable endeavours within infrastructure that cannot aid such progression. Whilst this is nothing new as a concept, it has never before been written into an overarching document to cover the interests of all and to genuinely empower each of these interests. The holes in the discussion, the methodology and implementation of it will certainly be argued, but this would be a failure to understand the ethos that an NPPF should provide the platform to do this and this is where, be it on a local level or central the case studies gained will enable real progression into a sustainable future.
This alternative NPPF is quite simply the best tool available to provide a voice for everyone and help in the first place to build bridges across the voids created by insult and vitriolic stances that have been heavy in the NPPF debate thus far. It is then time to work with planners to help clearly define workable landscapes for us all.
The NPPF should be the key policy in determining the future of our landscapes, the natural and cultural heritage contained within it and making landscape relevant for our everyday lives and most importantly for our future generations. The subsequent debate could well prove to be a turning point where England paves the way for providing case study to the rest of the world as to how to incorporate social issues such as homelessness and disintegrated communities with a real thrust for nature and a sense of place. And the acceptance by some of the larger land owning NGOs that the wider unprotected landscapes have been left open to abuse is a step in the right direction of seeing financial flow into landscapes which relate to the majority of the population rather than a privileged few.