Newly established, Cheshire based planning consultancy, Summit Planning Associates, has been considering the initial impact of the National Planning Policy Framework in it’s current short life-time.
The National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) was published, by the coalition government at the end of March this year. In the current climate where economic recovery is at the forefront of the government’s agenda, the main focus of the NPPF is to encourage sustainable development to achieve “positive growth – making economic, environmental and social progress for this and future generations.” It has condensed the previous suite of Planning Policy Statements , that ran to approximately 1,000 pages of guidance, into one overarching document of approximately 50 pages.
Prior to its final publication the NPPF was the subject of detailed and controversial consultation comments in response to many of its propositions. One of the main opposition voices was The Telegraph and its readers, who disagreed with the NPPF’s unclear approach to development within Green Belts and on rural land. They embarked on a “Hands off our Land” crusade and, in particular, forced the government to rethink their approach to the ‘presumption in favour of sustainable development’.
Other detractors, such as a Commons committee, claimed that initial drafts of the framework were “contradictory and confusing,” while the Environmental Audit Committee believed the definition of the presumption in favour of sustainable development was “unsatisfactory”.
However, following the publication of the NPPF, the impact caused has been a fraction of the hype surrounding it, although there are some teething problems to overcome in the transitional period. Updated good practice guidance, which accompanied many of the old policy statements, is yet to be published and Local Planning Authorities who have adopted a new local plan policy prior to the publication of the NPPF, are having to review its consistency with the new national policy position.
Chartered Town Planner and Managing Director of Summit Planning Associates, Amanda Olley considers that so far, the application of the presumption in favour of sustainable development is growing.
Amanda stated: “It is clear that the government considers growth in construction, and particularly in the housing sector, to be an important component to economic recovery. In this regard, the NPPF provides developers with the mechanism to avoid being caught up in protracted discussions with Local Planning Authorities whose hands were previously tied by ageing or out of date local plan policy“.
“In the short-term, it will be for developers to fully understand how the mechanisms of the NPPF can benefit them immediately and bring forward development proposals that will help kick-start the path to economic recovery. In the longer-term it will be for Local Planning Authorities to rise to the challenge of updating their local plan position in accordance with the NPPF so as to maintain our journey on that path”.
Amanda Olley has been a planning consultant for 12 years and is an expert in her field. For more information, contact Summit Planning Associates via Tel: 01625 801800 or E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
You can view the new National Planning Policy Framework at: http://www.communities.gov.uk/publications/planningandbuilding/nppf