Planning Fears

The National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) has just been published, with significant amendments negotiated by the Liberal Democrats in Government since the Draft NPPF was released for consultation last July.

I must admit to being horrified by the original proposals but happily surprised with the final outcome.

Those major Lib Dem inspired changes, since its controversial Draft version, are: 

- The controversial default ‘yes to development’ is no longer part of the Framework. This addresses a number of concerns that the NPPF as drafted may have led to a rash of quickly implemented, unsustainable development.

- The section on protecting the High Street has been strengthened, with a clear sequential test for retail development. This follows the work of Mary Portas, and her review on the future of High Street retail. 

- The “Brownfield First” principle has been clearly set out, as has the principle of “land of least environmental value”. These are crucial concessions to Lib Dem concerns about the potential effect of the Draft NPPF on future Greenfield development.

- The NPPF as published clarifies the balance that planners must strike between economic growth, environmental protection, and social concerns.

- “Core Principles” have been explicitly set out, including (at Lib Dem insistence) an emphasis on the sustainability of potential economic development.

- There will also be further flexibility in ‘change of use’ regulations, to reduce the need for commercial new build. 

- There will be a twelve-month ‘transition period’ for local authorities who do not yet possess an up-to-date Local Plan to have one put into place. The Planning Inspectorate will also offer increased support to those authorities updating their Local Plans to fit with the NPPF.

What do you think? Will the new planning landscape work?

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James Barber

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