Tuesday, 27 March 2012 was a momentous day within the planning industry with the Government publishing the new National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) which came into effect immediately. This 50 page policy document has now formally replaced over 20 Planning Policy Statements, 9 Guidance Notes on minerals development and numerous Government Circulars. The majority of the text repeats the main points of the replaced guidance in a more concise form. However, due to the brevity of the guidance the meaning of each paragraph will be subject to interpretation and only through testing these policies through the applications and appeals process will we know the true extent of the shift in Government policy.
The Government have given Councils a 12 month period in which to revise adopted plans or to produce new Local Plans which conform with the new guidance. Councils with Local Plans which were adopted before 2004 may find some policies being challenged as they may be considered out of date.
Some interesting points are made in relation to rural development, which we feel may present opportunities as set out below.
Local authorities are being encouraged to:
· Support the re-use of disused buildings where it would lead to the enhancement to the immediate setting;
· Consider allowing some market housing in rural areas where it may facilitate the provision of significant additional affordable housing to meet local needs;
· Support the vitality of villages: in smaller settlements consideration should be given to how development in one village may support services in a village nearby;
· Identify and bring back into use empty housing and buildings. Councils are encouraged to approve planning applications for change of use of commercial buildings to residential where there is a need for additional housing in that area (provided that there are not strong economic reasons why such development would be inappropriate).
It will be very interesting over the coming months to monitor how the NPPF will impact on development proposals.
With a presumption in favour of sustainable development, will this really stimulate economic development and streamline the planning system or cause more delays whilst local authorities grapple with the interpretation of this substantially condensed planning policy?
We will be monitoring the impact of the new Policy Framework and we recommend that those sites which we have promoted previously to assess any potential for development should be reviewed in the light of these changes. If you would like to discuss the implications of the Framework please get in contact with one of our planning team.
Andrew Barr- firstname.lastname@example.org
Hayley Chandler - email@example.com
Peter Le Grys - firstname.lastname@example.org