Tentative reaction to new planning rules

Tentative reaction to new planning rules

14:50 PM, 27th March 2012, About 12 years ago 3

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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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10:47 AM, 29th March 2012, About 12 years ago

As a small developer, I think the NPPF is a disaster for businesses like mine and for self-builders: councils will now have every incentive to secure their 5-year housing supply by doing deals with big landowners and housebuilders to build large new estates. Small builders and ordinary self-builders dependent on infill sites, however, are going to struggle even more because "garden grabbing" or "windfall" sites are explicitly discouraged in the NPPF: it states that a council can only allow these if it can't secure its five-year supply any other way and if it can show that windfall sites are a reliable source of housing. Infill housing is also unpopular with a significant proportion of constituents, so all a council has to do is find a willing large developer or two with large blocks of land, do some deals with them, lock up the housing supply for 15-20 years in a Core Strategy, and ban all small developments and single-build houses on the grounds there's no need for them. This will keep the constituents happy, reduce the amount of work for the Planning department (they will only have the large developments and domestic extensions to deal with), solve the local affordable homes problem, and secure a steady stream of S106/CIL money for the councillors to spend on their pet projects.

10:56 AM, 29th March 2012, About 12 years ago

All planning is subject to lobbying and therefore influence and inevitably unfairness, corruption etc.
Sir Digby Jones correctly said our planning system is an abomination.
This "simplification" is yet to address the unnecesary complexities to the extent needed. 

11:08 AM, 30th March 2012, About 12 years ago

'Sustainable 'Development' will always be a moveable feast open to
subjective evaluation because it relies upon the prediction of future
needs of a society. And as any child will tell you, you can't predict
the future because it hasn't happened yet.
My worry is that any opportunity for subjectivity within the planning process has always resulted in provincial and small minded thinking. And that's without
even considering the small-minded attitudes to non-standard construction and original design.
The point about small developers is a worry here. A large developer will be appealing to a mass-market tastes.
Economy of scale is the key driver. Without medium and small developers
then architectural innovation will go out the window and that, in my
humble opinion, will be a block to design and engineering innovation
which in turn will take the entire industry away from properties which
might deliver truly radical 'sustainable development'.

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