It should be clear from the above that the Localism Act and the NPPF will have far-reaching implications for the future of the English waterways system. The NPPF includes extensive safeguards for the protection of the environment including heritage assets. It is nevertheless unashamedly allied to securing growth and to support economic development subject to meeting sustainability and environmental objectives as well.
The need to provide up to date Local Plans by late March 2013 will see the imminent publication of many draft planning consultation documents and the holding of Local Plan Examinations within a very condensed time frame. Moreover, the opportunities offered by the Localism Act for the preparation of Neighbourhood Plans will create an extra layer of plan-making which will also need to be monitored. However, where Neighbourhood Plans are being prepared for areas with Inland Waterways, there will be opportunities for waterway enthusiasts to participate directly in the formulation of such Plans.
Urgent decisions need to be taken as to how best to safeguard and promote the future of the Inland Waterways through the emerging Plans. From the Restoration Committee’s perspective, if the appropriate monitoring of and participation in the Plan process can be successfully undertaken at the local level, there is a golden opportunity to safeguard and advance restoration projects, including those which cross Local Authority boundaries.
The key question is how best can this be promoted, organised and achieved?
17th May 2012