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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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All in all the system, which is infamous for being outdated, glacial in its rate of change and bureaucratic to the point of exasperation, has become distinctly more dynamic.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.