Tag Archive: National Planning Policy Framework

“Never let a good crisis go to waste”

Richard Garland, Head of our Planning, Architecture and Development team looks at the relevance of this famous quote attributed to Winston Churchill to those with development property interests.

There are only two certainties in life, death and taxes. True but there is another, getting planning permission takes ages. Whilst we have seen some reduction in the amount of activity on short term site purchases and development, there has been very little reduction in the number of long term projects we are working on. Land promotion and the process of planning new developments including new towns takes many years and will be expected to span a number of economic cycles. It is therefore not surprising that those involved are doing everything they can to press on with their promotion, particularly as they may be well placed to fill some of the ‘delivery void’ caused by any prolonged economic downturn.

Those with sites of all types can learn from this approach which may be more applicable than it seems. Whilst considerably shorter, the typical journey of a smaller site through planning permission frequently takes over a year. That process can be extended significantly if sites first require promotion towards a local plan or detailed site assembly or long term survey work. Add onto that delays in sorting legal title issues access rights, restrictive covenants in advance of the sale or commencing development, or just the dreaded delay in planning and it can be considerably longer.

Even the longest recession in UK history only lasted five quarters. Once the market returned in 2009 and 2010, we saw competition for sites increase due to a lack of supply, leading to those with good quality sites with permission able to command a premium. For those planning to use the sale of a property to fund or assist retirement or business shifts, planning ahead is even more important.

So what should you be doing with your land and property now to make the most of the situation? In a series of three articles Richard Garland gives his top five tips under the three service areas of Planning, Architecture, and Development within which the GFW team operate:


  1. For those with permissions live now, there is a chance that you may not be able to deal with that permission as quickly as you would normally, often leading to a real chance of it expiring. Changing local plans can lead to expired permissions not being renewed. At the least renewals are expensive. Consider clarifying planning conditions now and what could be done to commence permission and keep it alive. Satisfying planning conditions also make developments more saleable or quicker to start if you intend to build out.
  2. For permissions that have significant s106, CIL, affordable housing or other onerous conditions that affect their financial viability, there exists a mechanism where these can be reviewed. Viability work needs to be assessed and approached carefully and with expertise. Our experience is that it can assist in saving considerable amounts of money which allow marginal sites to become viable and come forward.
  3. For those with sites with potential, use this time to start the local plan promotion process. Changes to the national planning policy framework in 2012, introduced to get the UK building again saw sites approved which we had previously taken a 25-year view on. Housing numbers will come under scrutiny and Planning Authorities will need to show they can deliver numbers even if there is a prolonged slowdown.
  4. Local plan promotion can start with just a red line boundary on a plan. However, successful promotion is a skillset in its own right. Demonstrating that site constraints have been overcome from the start is vital and will make your site stand out. Professionally prepared visual material is invaluable in demonstrating key parameters.
  5. Local plans have a typical 5-year review cycle and a number of those are coming up. At a time when the delivery is under question, that may present opportunities. Getting prepared and the site on the ‘radar’ of local planning authorities is vital to stand any chance. ‘Red line’ only plans submitted in haste rarely attract attention.

Over the next few weeks we will explore the Architecture and Development disciplines. To discuss this article or specific issues relating to your site please contact:

Richard Garland
07738 196051

Revised National Planning Policy Framework

The revised NPPF (National Planning Policy Framework) (2018) was released yesterday amid a raft of other national legislation before the start of the Parliament recess. The draft was issued in March 2018 and has been subject to consultation, initially it looks like there have been very few changes from this draft. We are just wading our way through it to see what the changes are and what implications these may have for our clients.

There is an increased emphasis on high quality design to be achieved in new developments and through development plan policies including Neighbourhood Plans to reflect local characteristics. The Framework reaffirms protect of Green Belt land provides further protection for biodiversity ancient woodland and trees, and stresses greater importance on air quality.

It confirms a methodology for calculating housing need across different forms and tenures and crucially from November 2018 Council’s will have to meet a Housing Delivery Test. This focuses on driving up the number of homes delivered in areas, as opposed to how many are planned for. Councils that under-deliver against a three year housing target – will be penalised. The Framework also places greater emphasis on small sites recognising the need for a greater variety of site to come forward through the planning system.

It’s important to ensure that we assess and interpret its content much of which is aimed at responding to a national housing crisis and preparing for the impacts economically of a post Brexit environment, and advise our clients accordingly.

The government repeated its goal to building 300,000 new homes a year “by the mid-2020s”.

If you would like to discuss further or have a specific planning query please contact Stephanie Linnell on 01665 511990 or email stephanielinnell@georgefwhite.co.uk

Planning’s Dynamic Duo

There have been a number of headline grabbing announcements on planning matters in recent months, culminating in last week’s budget extension of granting “suitable” brownfield land automatic planning permission (whatever that may mean). Previous announcements include a virtual moratorium on wind turbine developments; allowing barn conversions to residential use without the need for formal planning permissions (alongside a dizzying array of permitted development changes); and removing affordable housing requirements on smaller residential sites.

All in all the system, which is infamous for being outdated, glacial in its rate of change and bureaucratic to the point of exasperation, has become distinctly more dynamic. Let’s not forget recent changes build on the introduction of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF), now over 3 years old and mooted at the time as being one of the biggest changes to planning in living memory.

Behind the scenes of the headline announcements, the Government have introduced a powerful tool in their influence of the planning system. The National Planning Policy Guidance (NPPG) is the much less talked about sidekick to the NPPF, the Robin of guidance to the Batman of planning policy if you like. Introduced in 2014, it is described as “an indication of the Secretary of State’s views”. Note the singular person reference in the Secretary of State, perhaps playing the part of the Joker?

Unlike true planning policy, there is no formal requirement to carry out consultation on the content of the NPPG and the Government clearly see it as a way to quickly and decisively moulding the planning system into their own mould. A useful tool on their utility belt in their crime fighting crusade for planning good perhaps? A number of the recent announcements have been issued through Ministerial Statements, then finding their way into the NPPG. The consequences, as anyone with a wind turbine project approaching planning will tell you, can be dramatic.

But is this power being abused? Well possibly. There is talk in planning circles of legal challenges to some of the reforms being introduced and Governments have caught a cold before on introducing planning changes without due powers. It remains to be seen whether the Robin is acting out of turn and needs to take more of a back seat in the Batmobile.

In the meantime, the planning landscape has changed and will continue to do so. Some sympathy has to lie with local authorities trying to set local plans amongst the shifting sands but one thing is for sure that anyone thinking of entering the planning system needs to be alert to influences from all channels and act on up to date information.