Planning Policy Explained

The new National Planning Policy Framework (N.P.P.F.) was released on 27th March 2012 and looks set to shake up the planning system over the next 12-18 months.

In a nutshell, the N.P.P.F. has shrunk 15,000 pages of National Planning Policy down to just 50. These new broad-brush policies are generally pro-development with a number of important areas that are open to interpretation.

Over the coming months we expect to see a large number of appeals that will start to debate and define some of the looser intentions within the N.P.P.F. At P.P.S. we are already updating our existing planning and development projects to reflect this new Central advice. We are also keeping a close eye on how the Planning Inspectorate, Secretary of State and the High Court will interpret the N.P.P.F. and its nuances.

The N.P.P.F. opens up a number of opportunities for developers to explore, including:

  • Brown Field Site Policy
  • Five year housing supplies with 20% buffer
  • Further limited support for infilling in the Green Belt
  • Material considerations still form a key function of the planning system
  • Any Council with a Local Plan older than 2004 are most vulnerable to Planning Appeals
  • The majority of Planning Circulars remain, which provide a degree more certainty than expected
  • Planning Law requires that applications for planning permission must be determined in accordance with the Councils Local/ Development Plan unless material considerations indicate otherwise. The National Planning Policy Framework must be taken into account in the preparation of local and neighbourhood Plans and is a material consideration in planning decisions.
  • It is highly desirable that the Local Planning Authority should have an up-to-date Plan in place.

Interestingly the below list of ‘old planning chestnuts’ whilst not exhaustive creaks of changes in interpretation

  • Green Belt – A Local Planning Authority should regard the construction of new buildings as inappropriate in Green Belt. Exceptions to these are… limited infilling or the partial or complete redevelopment of previously developed sites (Brown Field land) whether redundant or in continuing use (excluding temporary buildings) which would not have a greater impact on the openness of the Green Belt and for the purposes of including land within it around the existing development.
  • Previous developed land – land which is or was occupied by a permanent structure including the curtilage of the development land (although it should not be assumed that the whole of the curtilage should be developed) and any associated fixed surface infrastructure. This excludes private residential gardens in built-up areas. It will be interesting to see how this impacts on dwellings not in built-up areas.
  • For the purpose of decision taking, the Policies in the Local Plan should not be considered out of date simply because they were adopted prior to the publication of this Framework. For twelve months to the day of publication, decision takers may continue to give full weight to relevant policies adopted since 2004, even if there is a limited degree of conflict with this Framework. Weight is also given to emerging Plans, so these are transitional arrangements everyone was wondering about. Local Planning Authorities have twelve months to get their policies in place… on your marks, get set, go.
  • Importantly, the crux of decision-making in planning terms remains the same. Material considerations such as personal circumstances or housing/economic need, etc. can still hold weight in decision-making, if appropriate.

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