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National Planning Policy Framework Summary

National Planning Policy

The much anticipated National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) was published on 27 March 2012.  It has been heralded as one of the greatest upheavals of the planning system for generations.  However, whilst the NPPF has seen over 1,000 pages of national planning policy and guidance reduced to just 50, there are a number of questions arising as to the exact implications of the document and how it fits within a pro-growth agenda.

At its launch, The Right Hon. Greg Clarke MP described the planning reforms as having three fundamental objectives:

  • To put unprecedented power in the hands of communities to shape the places in which they live;
  • To better support growth to give the next generation the chance that our generation has had to have a decent home, and to allow the jobs to be created on which our prosperity depends; and
  • To ensure that the places we cherish - our countryside, towns and cities - are bequeathed to the next generation in a better condition than they are now.

At Spawforths, we have been considering the potential implications of the document in the months leading up to its adoption, based on the last summer’s draft document and our extensive experience.  Post-adoption we have been carefully scrutinising the text and how it may affect current development proposals, the development potential for new sites and the timing of planning application submissions.

The headline element of the NPPF has been the “presumption in favour of sustainable development”, which is identified as a “golden thread” running through development plan preparation and decision making.  This has been identified as a “default ‘yes’ ” to development, but our experience tells us that the answer, whilst perhaps more positive than before, must be based on a more in-depth consideration of a number of key factors such as the location, where a Local Planning Authority is in its plan-making process and issues surrounding sustainability.  This last point is key, as to get the benefit of the ‘presumption in favour’, the development must be demonstrably sustainable.  Spawforths have developed an intelligent approach through a creation of a Sustainability Assessment tool kit to confirm the relative sustainability of any site.  Speak to one of the Planning Team at Spawforths to understand more about this product.

Spawforths have identified eight key themes which we consider most significantly impact on the planning policy and decision making process over the next few years.  These key themes are in many ways extensions of extant good practice.  Spawforths have a number of current and recent examples of work where it can be demonstrated how we have already met the Government’s vision for the planning system.  Spawforths’ approach is based on the principles of good planning and to a large extent has already adhered to the three fundamental objectives of the planning system, as set out by Mr Clark.  Spawforths have always taken the ethical approach that good planning is not development “at whatever cost” but development and growth in the right location and in the right way – the basis for what is sustainable development.  The Government have made it clear that those who seek to foster growth and whose development proposals can be demonstrably sustainable should be enabled, not hindered by the Planning System.

We set out the 8 themes separately in the following sections where you will be able to understand the fundamental issues which the new framework will create, as well as some examples of where the principles of sustainable development have already been applied to good effect by Spawforths.  

If you would like to view the full National Planning Policy Framework document, please click [here] to take you to the Department for Communities and Local Government website.

Posted in National Planning Policy


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