Saturday, 28 June 2014

The pressures to build on green fields: the NPPF ........... ........... how did we get here?

The East Devon Alliance website has just publicised an analysis of how the NPPF came about:



26 June 2014

Many will recall rhe furore when the National Planning Policy Framework was initially drawn up by a group of builders and developers, the majority of them (3 out of 4) large donors to the Tory Party. Now the Institute for Government has issued a report on the background to this project, and what a sleazy business it appears to uncover.

Here are a few snippets from their report:

… But there is increasing interest in different approaches to policy making from both ministers and from the leadership of the Civil Service. The Civil Service Reform Plan published in mid-June states that “open policy making will become the default. Whitehall does not have a monopoly on policy-making expertise. We will establish a clear model of open policy making…” …

… DCLG had been planning before the election how to address the manifesto commitment to produce a new planning framework. They had set up a programme board, and had produced a 500-page draft before the election. …

In parallel to establishing the practitioners’ advisory group, but without mentioning it, Greg Clark announced the review of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) on 20 December 2010. He asked for views and set a deadline for the end of February:

The group was only acknowledged in March 2011. Its ad hoc establishment meant it could not be given official status. However people in the know in Whitehall and beyond were aware that there was an exercise in train which added to the awkwardness. The lack of official status meant that DCLG emphasised to external bodies that the department was drafting the new NPPF.

They were not given a formal terms of reference by the minister – indeed they were asked to produce their own.

PAG [practitioners' advisory group] members told us that the process was much more time-consuming than they expected. None of them were paid for their work, so there was a clear bias in favour of those for whom this could be part of their day job.

One outsider told us that he was unclear whether the PAG thought their remit was simply to précis existing guidance or to make new policy. And indeed there seemed to be continuing confusion over whether the NPPF was simply a restatement of existing guidance in more usable form or a real change in policy. 

The PAG themselves report heated debates over:

 the presumption in favour of sustainable development

 issues such as flood protection – a big issue in Gary Porter’s home county of Lincolnshire,

but where the environmental view held sway

 the viability of building

 whether there should be local or national standards for sustainability

And there is MUCH more …

To read the full report – on which we will report further:


The selection of the four (on the NPPF Panel) was very ad hoc. The participants appeared to be very surprised to be asked and did not really understand the reasons for their selection. They were each invited for a chat about planning with Greg Clark at which they were invited to take part. There was no hint of using Nolan processes for public appointments and no formal announcement of the establishment of the PAG. The Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) pointed out that the informality and secrecy of the process meant that none of the normal sounding-out of interested parties happened.

The story of the birth of the NPPF – and what a disgraceful one it is | East Devon Alliance

More from the Report:

2. Case study: The national planning policy framework  

Planning has a long history of being a highly contentious issue. Under the last government, local planning decisions had to be compatible with regional spatial strategies and with a large amount of planning policy and guidance. Regional spatial strategies in particular attempted to allocate new housing to districts – a move that was deeply resented by many local people. 

The Government also introduced a new regime for planning nationally significant infrastructure projects. This would allow ministers to produce national planning statements, but final decisions would be taken out of ministerial hands and adjudicated instead by a new quango – the 
Infrastructure Planning Commission (IPC). This measure was designed to overcome the long delays which were seen to bedevil development in England. 
In opposition the Conservatives had promised a move to ‘open source planning’5 – with an emphasis on more local ownership of development plans and an end to imposed targets through regional spatial strategies. They also pledged to abolish the IPC – in line with their more general approach to arm’s-length bodies – to restore ministers’ role in making final planning decisions. 

Open source planning was defined as “a planning system where there is a basic national framework of planning priorities and policies, within which local people and their accountable local governments can produce their own distinctive local policies to create communities, which are sustainable, attractive and good to live in”.

In opposition, the Conservatives had had a ‘planning sounding board’ of planning experts to advise them. This board provided the nucleus of the Practitioners’ Advisory Group which would be tasked with coming up with a draft national planning policy framework. The people asked to be on the PAG were: 
 John Rhodes, Director of Quod, planning consultant, and former head of RPS Group Plc’s London Office 
 Simon Marsh, Acting Head of Sustainable Development at the RSPB, who had acted as the lead contact person for the environmental non-governmental organisations (NGOs) with planning ministers 
 Councillor Gary Porter, Leader of South Holland District Council and Chairman of LGA Environment and Housing Programme Board 
 Peter Andrew, Director of Land and Planning at Taylor Wimpey UK

www.instituteforgovernment.org.uk/sites/default/files/publications/opening_up policy making_final.pdf

Looking at each member of the PAG:

> John Rhodes, Director of Quod:
Meet the Quod Team

Uploaded on 6 Dec 2010

John Rhodes, Director of planning consultants Quod talks about the fundamental importance of localism and the influence it will have on the planning landscape under the new Government.

John Rhodes of planning consultants Quod - The fundamental importance of localism - YouTube

The strange campaign against the national planning policy framework

Those who spread fear about 'uncontrolled development' can't have read this independent and localist draft framework

John Rhodes theguardian.com, Friday 23 September 2011 0T
Jump to comments (55)

'It is for planning authorities, not the government, to decide whether brownfield land should be preferred [for development] in their area'. Photograph: David Levene for the Guardian

As one of four members of the government's advisory group who prepared the draft on which the government's new planning reforms are closely based, I have followed the debate in the press closely. Consultation, scrutiny and debate are important in getting policy right. However, the campaign against the national planning policy framework(NPPF) appears to be based on some serious misunderstandings.

First, nobody told us what to write – either from industry or from government. We were a mixed (and I believe deliberately balanced) group: one from local government, one a house builder, one from the RSPB and one – myself – a planning consultant. It was emphasised that we should prepare our own document, a framework for what we thought the planning policy system should be. We all wanted to achieve a clear, concise planning framework which could be understood and used by all, and which set out what was really important in order to regulate responsible development. The draft was agreed between us, not forced upon us by others.

Second, it is silly to assert that the draft NPPF will provide developers a licence to build "anything wherever they wanted to". The National Trust is saying the reforms will lead to "unchecked and damaging development" spoiling the countryside, backed by the Telegraph's campaigns against "the threat of uncontrolled development".

Those making that assertion have not read the document. The reforms retain planning authorities' local plans at the heart of the system. Authorities that produce an up-to-date local plan will find that the law not only allows them, but requires them to refuse proposals for development which are contrary to a local plan. The draft NPPF directly invites authorities to identify the circumstances in which planning consent should be refused.

Yes, in the absence of an up-to-date local plan, the presumption in favour of sustainable development applies. However, most campaigners omit an important qualification contained in the draft: that the presumption does not apply where the adverse impacts of development would "significantly and demonstrably outweigh the benefits". In other words, if objectors and authorities can show that a development would cause significant harm, the presumption would not apply. If the harm is insignificant, cannot be demonstrated or does not outweigh the benefits, it seems to me relatively uncontroversial that the right to build should apply.

Third, it is correct that the draft NPPF does not set a target for the development of brownfield land, although it does encourage the planning of development in sustainable locations. The important point, however, is that it is for planning authorities (not the government) to decide in their local plans whether brownfield land should be preferred in their area. Localism simply means that the government is allowing authorities to judge the best solution for their area. Increased "town cramming" or the loss of urban open space is not always the most sustainable solution.

Lastly, the NPPF does encourage a positive approach to development, but this isn't a sudden change of direction. The open source planning green paper published before the election explains that local plans would be expected to meet "objectively assessed requirements" of their local communities. Asking authorities to meet the needs of their population and businesses, where this can be done without significant harm, does not feel like an extreme policy approach.

Objectors assert that there is no shortage of planning permissions. But does anyone really think there is no shortage of housing in Britain, particularly in the south-east where house prices are eight, 10 or 12 times the average income? Many authorities in the south-east do not even try to meet the requirements of their own population with the result that chronic housing shortages, unaffordable house prices and constraints on growth are compounded. The planning system, in its current state, is not providing enough development permissions where people actually want to work or live. To me, that sounds like a luxury which a modern economy and a just society cannot afford.

The strange campaign against the national planning policy framework | John Rhodes | Comment is free | theguardian.com

> Simon Marsh, Acting Head of Sustainable Development at the RSPB:
Simon Marsh — Cambridge Forum for Sustainability and the Environment

RSPB comes out against NPPF as ‘greenwash’, 

‘We will be rolling up our sleeves to fight this’ – One of the Practitioners breaks ranks

There are interesting comments from the RSPB from Simon Marsh – its acting Head of Sustainability and one of the practitioners group, and Martin Harper their Conservation Director.  The RSPB also seem to be shifting their position and coming out against it.
Martin Harper said on his blog that New Planning Policy is a Step Backwards for Nature
just two short months ago, a small group of expert practitioners, tasked by ministers at the department for Communities and Local Government (CLG), with my colleague Simon Marsh amongst them, published their draft of the NPPF.
The critical difference is that today’s publication is the Government’s own draft. Whilst this bears more than a passing resemblance to that produced by the practitioners’ group, there have been a number of significant changes…
Firstly, it formally marks the government’s desired shift in the emphasis on planning decisions, placing one factor – economic growth – higher than others in decision-making. …
It is understandable why some are clamering for economic growth, but we must have the right checks and balances in place to ensure this does not come at the expense of nature. It is already clear that the draft NPPF fails to put in place the measures necessary to ensure that the purpose of planning really is ‘to contribute to the achievement of sustainable development’. It is therefore unfit for its own, self-defined, purpose.
Secondly, it also marks a lost opportunity to use the NPPF to support the Government’s ambitions to restore the natural environment as outlined in the Natural Environment White Paper. The RSPB has long argued that the NPPF should be ‘spatial’ – to help decide how to maximise the value that our natural resources offers us. This would help us guide development to the most appropriate locations, thus avoiding conflict, as well as identifying areas which would be suitable for restoring wildlife to England….
For now, despite the strong, and welcome, references to restoring the natural environment in Greg Clark’s foreword,the draft NPPF is effectively green-wash. During the consultattion phase, the balance of truly sustainable development – which helps us to live within environmental limits – needs to be restored.
Whilst Simon Marsh on his blog states
Our first, and overriding, concern, relates to a profound shift in emphasis for the planning system, centred around the so-called ‘presumption in favour of sustainable development’. A tricky concept to bring to life, in principle this sounds good, but in practice? Well, let’s just say it has raised many eyebrows!
Ideally the presumption in favour of sustainable development would be just that – a presumption that unless development can prove it is sustainable, against a robust series of tests, it should not go ahead. This version, however, reads more like a presumption in favour of development, with the ‘sustainable’ tacked on to please the greenies.
This profoundly misses the point. Unless our much-needed economic growth is truly sustainable, we will be setting up problems for ourselves, our children and our grandchildren.
The draft establishes a reasonable (if not fantastic) definition of sustainable development at the outset, but then the presumption clearly places one ‘pillar’ of sustainability – economic growth – higher than the others as an objective for the planning system. This inconsistency is carried through the entire draft, and is a shift away from the current approach of the planning system which seeks to give equal weight to environmental, social and economic needs in decision-making.
What would this mean in practice? Basically, it could make it much harder for a local authority to refuse permission for a proposal that would damage the natural environment, unless someone is able to show that the ‘adverse impacts of allowing development would significantly and demonstrably outweigh the benefits’. And that doesn’t sound straightforward.
Our second concern relates specifically to the measures outlined in the NPPF to support and encourage the restoration and enhancement of the natural environment. Whilst there are some welcome policies on this in the draft text, they do not go far enough to achieve the ambitions set out either in the government’s Natural Environment White Paper, or in Greg Clark’s own foreword.
Martin Harper comments back
As my colleague, Simon Marsh, points out in his blog, unless economic growth is sustainable, we will be storing up problems for our children. The reality is that the NPPF has gone too far by clearly places one ‘pillar’ of sustainability – economic growth – higher than the others as an objective for the planning system. This inconsistency is carried through the entire draft, and is a departure from the current approach of the planning system which seeks to give equal weight to environmental, social and economic needs in decision-making.
This is such a fundamental shift in emphasis, that we will be rolling up our sleeves to fight this.
I really cant see the shift they are talking about. It seems like an embarrassed admission they were fooled into greenwashing the draft to me.
For example there was never any concept of environmental limits and the word for word definition of the sustainability is the same as before. But that is by the by. What is clear now is that the NPPF is solely endorsed by pro-development interests
RSPB | Decisions, Decisions, Decisions

Hands off our land: This isn't the planning policy that I drew up

Good planning should meet the needs of the people and the environment - and the Coalition's proposed reforms fall down badly.

Door to the future: our countryside needs protecting from urban sprawl Photo: Alamy

By Simon Marsh 15 Sep 2011


What is our planning system for? That is the question the Government is grappling with through its reform of England’s planning rules – and the answer it has come up with is proving to be a lot more controversial than it expected.

The Daily Telegraph has taken up cudgels on behalf of those concerned that the proposed National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) will not protect our countryside from the march of urban sprawl. The public backlash is growing, as is the pressure on ministers to take a step back and reconsider where they are taking our planning system.

With my background in planning and nature conservation, I was asked to help to write the new reforms. But I certainly cannot support the proposals on the table. The essence of good planning is meeting the needs of people, the economy and the environment – and these reforms are threatening that approach.

Greg Clark, the planning minister, invited four experts to write a first draft of the NPPF. As well as myself, from the environmental sector, there were three others drawn from the local authority sector, developers and the housebuilding industry, although we were all there in a personal capacity rather than representing the views of our organisations.

It was a novel and challenging approach. Put four experts in a room who all think they are right and sparks will fly. Over five months we had plenty of lively debates as we battled over the text. Some battles I won, some I lost, and on others we found a compromise. By the end we had a succinct, but flawed document.

I can see why the Government wants to streamline planning policy – not least to make the system more accessible to the public. Back in the early 1990s, working as a local authority planner, I helped to write a lengthy development plan. Looking back, that weighty tome must have been a real headache for people wanting to build a house in our patch. But it was invaluable experience for writing a succinct national policy. That, I think, was the real achievement of the expert group.

After we published our draft, the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) beavered away to turn it into an official government draft. That meant changes not only from them but from other departments across government, including those who don’t place a high value on either the environment or the planning system. With changes like that on top of a flawed draft, the result is a document that sets out a markedly different emphasis for the future planning system.

I believe there are some welcome ideas in the text. There are new policies on restoring habitats and protecting local ecological networks. There’s a tougher stance on peat extraction – no more planning permissions, even for extended sites – and there’s a new designation to protect green spaces.

But the big argument isn’t really over the environmental policies. It’s over the “presumption in favour of sustainable development” and the overall tone of the document, which puts the economy first. This marks a profound shift in emphasis for planning policy.

Ideally, the presumption in favour of sustainable development would be just that – a presumption that unless development can prove it is sustainable, against a robust series of tests, it should not go ahead. In the draft NPPF, however, it reads more like a presumption in favour of development, with the “sustainable” tacked on to quieten the greenies.

So, what would the presumption mean in practice? Much depends on whether the planning authority has an up-to-date local plan – at the moment, only about a third of them do. In short, it could make it much harder for a local authority to refuse permission for a proposal that would damage the natural environment, unless someone is able to show that the “adverse impacts of allowing development would significantly and demonstrably outweigh the benefits”. And that doesn’t sound straightforward, especially when coupled with the expectation that “the default answer to development is 'yes’ ”.

Don’t get me wrong, we need new homes and businesses, and we need them quickly. We need renewable energy, too, and the approval rates in England are shockingly low. But it is essential that the reforms help us to get the right development in the right places, without destroying the wildlife or communities that the Government professes to care so much about.

It isn’t all bad news. There’s the potential to make something positive out of the NPPF if the Government listens to the public and organisations such as the RSPB during the consultation.

I believe Greg Clark is genuine in his desire to protect and enhance the natural environment, as he says in his foreword to the NPPF. But although the Government has clearly stated its intention to protect Sites of Special Scientific Interest and other special places, the RSPB is not convinced that its policies achieve this.

Our challenge to the Government is for it to show how it can effectively simplify and reform the planning process in a way that does not undermine that vital environmental protection. It is only when it can do this that the public will be convinced that these reforms will truly deliver for people, the economy and the environment.

Simon Marsh is the RSPB’s acting head of sustainable development

Hands off our land: This isn't the planning policy that I drew up - Telegraph

Councillor Gary Porter, Leader of South Holland District Council
Councillor profiles | Local Government Association
Policy Review TV in partnership with Local Government Intelligence
Gary Porter – the man with three hats and South Holland tinted spectacles - Spalding Guardian

Saturday, 01 October 2011 09:13

Planning: Tesco cosy with Conservatives

Bob Neill, Lucy Neville-Rolfe, Charles Lewington
The week before the government published its controversial reforms to England's planning system, Conservative planning minister, Bob Neill, was snapped looking relaxed, glass of wine in hand, at a Westminster party.

The occasion is the invitation-only summer get-together of lobbying firm Hanover, run by Charles Lewington, John Major’s former press secretary.

Neill is pictured with Lewington, and on his shoulder is Lucy Neville-Rolfe, chief lobbyist at Tesco.

Tesco will be a big winner under the new planning system with its presumption in favour of development.

The supermarket’s lobbying campaign continues at this week's Conservative party conference, where tomorrow night (Sunday) it is sole sponsor of the Conservative Councillors' Association’s reception. The CCA represents nearly all local Tory politicians. A useful connection, one imagines, given their role in planning decisions.
Bob Neill, the son of a shopkeeper, also has a busy conference schedule. Monday sees him discuss the planning reforms with Conservative councillor and CCA board member, Gary Porter, one of four experts who helped write the Draft National Planning Policy Framework. The event is hosted by Savills, one of Britain's biggest property brokers.

Tuesday, Neill is the guest of free market think tank, the Adam Smith Institute and Berwin Leighton Paisner, law firm to numerous property companies and major developers, to discuss ‘where next’ for the planning system. Not to be outdone, house builders Crest Nicholson, have also teamed up with a think tank, the Social Market Foundation, and invited the minister to discuss whether there are ‘Enough Homes In All The Right Places?’

Neill has accused those opposed to the government’s new planning policies of being “Left-wingers based within the national headquarters of pressure groups… going out of their way by picking a fight with Government”.

Given the access the supermarkets, house builders, developers and their representatives have to ministers like Neill, and the sustained, well-resourced lobbying they have been engaged in to push the reforms through, it’s hardly a fair fight.

Planning: Tesco cosy with Conservatives

Councils becoming the only providers of truly affordable social housing

Local authorities are increasingly looking to their own resources to build the lower-rent accommodation they feel their areas need

Kate Murray theguardian.com, Tuesday 25 February 2014
Jump to comments (17)

Funding is better spent on bricks and mortar than housing benefit, says South Holland council leader Gary Porter. Photograph: Carlos Barria/Reuters

Gary Porter, leader of Conservative-run South Holland council in Lincolnshire and Local Government Association vice-chairman, says it's good that more councils are building again because they are both better landlords and better at getting a good deal for their area. "We get more bricks for £1 than registered social landlords and all of the profit is completely redistributed back into the community where it is generated from," he says. "There's no national [housing association] group shifting money around or lots of people taking out quite excessive salaries. And we do make better landlords because of the other things we do. We have a greater connection with the community."

In South Holland, the council has also set up a housing company and is developing homes at affordable rents, because of the comparatively low market rents in the area, as well as managing affordable homes built by private developers as part of their planning obligations. Porter says the government's recently announced review of how councils can deliver more homes should be looking at extending local authorities' licence to borrow. Councils are freer than they were to build, he adds, but further rule changes would allow them to deliver even more. "I wouldn't want people borrowing lots of money they can't service, but if it stacks up then let them borrow," he says.

Councils becoming the only providers of truly affordable social housing | Housing Network | theguardian.com

> Peter Andrew, Director of Land and Planning at Taylor Wimpey UK
Taylor Wimpey Group Management Team | Taylor Wimpey
Wimpey director wrote Tories’ new planning law | The Sunday Times
www.politicaldevelopments.com/downloads/09.11.11 The Times - Wimpey Directors wrote Tories planning law.pdf
Why is development such a dirty word? asks our director of land and planning, Peter Andrew, in his latest blog http://bit.ly/UPgPvt

One of the OED's definitions of development is ‘a stage of growth or advancement’. For most countries around the world the creation of new homes and facilities is a sign of growth and prosperity, of a society providing for its members and future generations. So why is development so often seen as a ...


Taylor Wimpey - Why is development such a dirty word? asks...
Blog | Taylor Wimpey

Sustainable spaces: Taylor Wimpey case study - YouTube
Now THIS Is An Example Of Greenwash! | ebuild.co.uk

Builder Taylor Wimpey turns to Carbon Trust for help on climate change | Energy Efficiency News
Taylor Wimpey develops carbon plan | Sustainable Building | Greenbuild News
Annual Conference 2012 - Zero Carbon Hub - YouTube

Housing Profiteers and their Facilitators

Corporate Watch takes a look at some of the main companies profiting from the housing crisis, as well as the lobbyists, think tanks and law firms that facilitate this profit-making.
Property Companies: Crisis? What crisis?
"It is an unfortunate fact of life that many individuals and companies are facing the all too real threat of repossession on their properties at this time," Nick Hopkinson, director of PPR Estates, said in 2010. Indeed it is, but it seems to be working out for some. Hopkinson's company, which specialises in buying up properties from those no longer able to afford to keep them, has already gained 200 properties in this way and aims to become one of the UK's leading residential landlords. And that's the problem; the more assets you have, the easier it is to wait for the good times to come back, and the larger and more influential the surviving companies become.
Not that the good times went away for long for the big property companies, 2011 saw them getting over the effects of the credit crunch with strong profits and their public relations teams have been working furiously to make sure the good times continue. Their lobbying has been directed as much at the media as it has been the government. Planning minister Greg Clark said, in a leaked email to other property developers, that he was “delighted” at the lobbying efforts of housing companies and warned that they could not afford to “let up”.[1] The property developers were also reported to have privately admitted that the minister's objectives have "align[ed] with ours" and said they had "earned more brownie points than we could ever imagine" by helping him.
Some property companies have gone even further and are drafting the policies themselves. The government's proposal to reform the planning system was based on a draft prepared by a four-strong panel, three of whom had direct involvement in building development, including Peter Andrew, director of land and planning at house builder Taylor Wimpey. They were all appointed by Greg Clark, the planning minister, to prepare the draft, key parts of which have been repeated in the government's bill, including the line: “At the heart of the planning system is a presumption in favour of sustainable development, which should be seen as a golden thread running through both plan making and decision taking.” This means that much previously-preserved green-belt land will be made available to build on and the “presumption” to say yes will make this much harder to stop. As Kevin Singleton, Head of Strategic Planning at Herefordshire County Council previously told Corporate Watch, for all the talk of giving power to local communities, it only applies “if a community wants to choose more ‘growth’, not less.”
When this is questioned the government's usual response is the need to build more homes. Announcing the government will sell off enough public land to build 83,500 homes, housing minister Grant Shapps said the only way to solve the housing “crisis” is by “building more homes”.[2] In which case he needs to tell his friends in the housing companies; according to the charity PlaceShapers, a recent report estimates the major developers already own enough land to build 620,000 homes and have planning permission to build on more than 50%, yet they allow it to remain vacant to keep prices for the homes they have already built high.
And the houses the companies are building are not intended to be homes the majority of people can afford. The recent upsurge in their profits has been from 'prime' properties. Mark Clare, CEO of Barratt, said that while in the good times they were building a variety of homes, “what we have gone back to now is sites that sell well in a tough market”,[3] which explains how Barratt has actually managed to increase the average selling price of its properties by 9% over the last year, despite the market being flat. The company is already preparing three projects on newly accessible greenbelt land, with Taylor Wimpey planning two of its own. So will these be the so-called affordable homes the reformed planning system promises? Not quite. Barratt describes the 300 houses it plans to build in farmland near Middlesbrough as “executive” homes, suggesting the people who will benefit from the housing crisis will be the same people who benefited from the financial one.
Housing Profiteers and their Facilitators | Corporate Watch


Federation welcomes publication of draft planning framework

The National Housing Federation today (Friday 20 May) welcomed the publication of the ‘unofficial’ National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF), produced by Planning Minister Greg Clark’s advisory group.

19 May 2011

Last December, Mr Clark announced a review of planning policy, designed to consolidate all policy statements, circulars and guidance documents into a single, simpler NPPF.

The Government intends the new framework to be user-friendly and accessible with clear policies for making robust local and neighbourhood plans and development management decisions.

As part of this review, Greg Clark invited Gary Porter of the LGA, Simon Marsh of the RSPB, Pete Andrew of Taylor Wimpey and John Rhodes of Quod Planning to form an advisory group to provide a practitioners perspective on what the NPPF should contain.

Their unofficial NPPF is published today and includes the following:
> The NPPF should not be spatial and planning should continue to be plan-led
> Its intention should be to significantly increase housing supply to meet demand, and not just need
> Mechanisms of Strategic Housing Market Assessments and Strategic Housing Land Availability Assessments and a five year land supply should continue, but with a 20% allowance of additional sites and no phasing policies
> An emphasis on meeting all needs, including affordable housing but with affordable housing met either on-site or through commuted payments... with the commuted payments applied either to new build or to make better use of the existing stock
> No separate local sustainability standards
> Clear guidance on ensuring the importance of viability, taking account of all guidance, obligations and standards... Supplementary Planning Documents cannot add to financial burdens
> There should be a presumption in favour of sustainable development – development that is required, viable and which mitigates its impact to cause no significant harm to the objectives, principles and policies identified in the NPPF.
Planning reform

In response to the group’s proposals, David Orr, chief executive of the National Housing Federation, said:'The advisory group are to be commended on the production of their draft NPPF. It’s a significant and substantial contribution to the reform of England’s planning system.

'There is much to welcome, including their commitment to a plan-led system that prioritises the meeting of housing need and demand. The group’s recommendation of a robust presumption in favour of sustainable development could help in achieving a long overdue step-change in building more affordable and market homes.

'However we cannot support the group’s recommendation of a move away from the on-site provision of affordable homes in private housing developments.

'A decent society is not one that is segregated by wealth or type of housing. Neighbourhoods should be mixed and the planning system should support that.

'A significant increase in the use of commuted sums would be good news for private housebuilders but would inevitably result in a big reduction in the delivery of new affordable homes, especially in the south of England.

'On-site provision of affordable homes guarantees that a fair share of the huge value uplift from the granting of planning permission for market homes is used to help meet acute housing need. The group’s alternative of commuted sums would instead provide payments to cash-strapped councils which might be diverted from the meeting of housing need to other purposes.

'If the Government’s aspiration for 150,000 new affordable homes over the next four years is to be met, it’s vital the reformed planning system continues to prioritise supporting the delivery of new affordable and specialist and supported homes for the millions of people in acute housing need.'

Federation welcomes publication of draft planning framework | Press releases | Media | National Housing Federation

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