14:50 PM, 27th March 2012, About 10 years ago 3
Following the release of the amended draft of the National Planning Policy Framework, reaction has been fairly positive.
The streamlining of rules, culminating in 1000 pages being reduced to a more succinct 50, include a return to focus on developing brownfield and town centres as opposed to greenfield development. Councils already with a local plan will have 12 months to implement the changes, those without will be expected to be starting from today.
Communities Minister Greg Clarke believes it should open the door to more new homes being built as less will be held up by planning disputes.
The British Property Federation were first to announce their pleasure to see the “moderate and sensible” document, but asked how It should be used.
“Government has made some sensible concessions while still ensuring that local authorities must provide homes and jobs where they are needed.
“What’s needed now is clarity over how the NPPF is going to be implemented. Urgent questions remain over how local authorities should determine how many homes and jobs they need, and what the guidance that underpins the NPPF should be.
“And those local authorities that have failed in the last eight years to draw up an up to date Local Plan must now get on and create one. Hopefully the transitional arrangements announced today will be the spur they need.”
The National House-Building Council also welcomed the announcement, saying it should help a worrying lack of new homes being built.
“The new planning framework and recently-announced first time buyers’ mortgage initiative are both important steps in empowering the private sector – the current engine of growth for housing numbers – to produce the volume of homes the country urgently needs. However, other challenges still remain, around for example zero carbon homes. NHBC is committed to supporting government and the industry to ensure that the next generation of homes is built to high standards and meet the demands of today’s new home buyers.”
Nick Fennell, head of planning at consultants Dalton Warner Davis, was less welcoming though, saying:
“One phrase in the framework document has emerged as a lightning rod for opponents – the presumption in favour of sustainable development. In reality this presumption has already been government policy since 2005. Yet many planning authorities have struggled to deliver the new housing and infrastructure the country badly needs.
“The biggest drag on getting planning approval is often the lack of resources and expertise at underfunded local councils. This new document will bring greater clarity and precision to the national guidelines but in itself, planning policy is not a silver bullet. So I do not expect an overnight revolution, with all planning authorities suddenly implementing all of these new guidelines.
“If we want an effective, inclusive planning process that delivers for all stakeholders, there is no escaping the fact that we will have to pay for it by allotting more resources to planning authorities.”
Paul Smith, director of Apex Planning Consultants, shared similar views to Mr Fennell, adding:
“For years the planning process has had a reputation for being confusing, bureaucratic and slow. But the arrival of the pared down Planning Policy Framework is no guarantee that things will get simpler.
“Much of the ire vented so far has focused on the “presumption in favour of sustainable development”.
“The problem is that the definition of “sustainable” is notoriously woolly, and different local authorities will inevitably interpret it in different ways. Once conflicting precedents are set, the waters will quickly be muddied.
“What is clear is this document does not give carte blanche to developers intent on building on green belt land. Opponents who raise the spectre of urban sprawl are being disingenuous at best and misleading at worst.”
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