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Neighbourhood Planning – government unveils details

The Coalition government has finally unveiled details of the National Planning Policy framework which is at the heart of its Localism Act.  

So what is in the final National Planning Policy Framework?

Civic Voice has highlighted the main points from the final NPPF below:-

• NPPF makes it clear that the local plan, is the keystone of the planning edifice

• The default “yes to sustainable development” has been removed and the definition of sustainable development has been strengthened  to include the Brundtland definition (“development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future  generations to meet their own needs.”) and refer explicitly to the five principles of the UK Sustainable Development Strategy

• It makes explicit that the presumption in favour of development works through, not against local plans

• A “Brownfield first” policy commitment has been introduced, which will insist that Town Halls actively encourage the recycling of  “brownfield” land in urban areas before fresh planning permission can be granted on “greenfield” sites. The Government will allow  local councils to set their own target for bringing brownfield back into use

• The policy includes a “town centre first” provision that will require councils to promote development of shopping areas in town centres  ahead of new out-of-town retail parks. This is an initiative aimed at promoting town centres. A government review of high street policy  is being driven by Mary Portas, television’s self-styled “queen of shops” so it is good to see Government policies integrating – (this review is out imminently).

• A clear mention that “well-designed buildings and places can improve the lives of people and communities” . The Government attaches great  importance to the design of the built environment and local planning authorities should have local design review arrangements in place

• Transitional arrangements – Local authorities with a post-2004 local plan that is broadly in line with the NPPF will be able to use those  policies for 12 months. For local authorities with no up to date plan, the NPPF will come in to force today. Civic Voice has been campaigning  for a period of acclimatisation. A team within the Planning Inspectorate, Local Government Association and DCLG who will be working with local  authorities to get their plans in place

• Five-year land supply – Local Authorities with a good track record at allocating land for housing must earmark a five-year supply plus 5%.  Others must earmark a five-year supply plus

• It allows councils to protect back gardens and ensures that playing fields continue to benefit from that same protection that they do currently

• The new document recognises the intrinsic value of countryside – this has been included in the NPPF following its removal from the first draft

• Designated beauty spots, such as national parks, had already been promised ‘robust protections’, as has Green Belt land.

• The Government are introducing a duty to cooperate to ensure that local authorities and public bodies cooperate with each other. The duty  will be a key element of proposals for strategic working now that Regional Strategies are abolished.