Sunday, 18 January 2015

The NPPF Report: "”Councils must do more to protect their communities against the threat of undesirable development by moving quickly to get an adopted Local Plan in place."

Last month, the The Communities and Local Government (CLG) Committee published its report on the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF):  
Operation of the National Planning Policy Framework - UK Parliament

... and the Planning Minister chose the moment to be very critical of local authorities who haven't completed their Local Plans:
Futures Forum: The NPPF Report: "The simple way for councils to send speculative developers packing is to have an up-to-date local plan - 80% of councils now have a published local plan and slow-coach councils should be held to account by local voters for dragging their feet."

Meanwhile, local communities appear to be under threat.

This is comment on Cllr Claire Wright's blog from yesterday - from current and former councillors:

2. At 08:47 am on 17th Jan Susie M Bond wrote:
“This was something that had concerned him for some time, however EDDC had told him that an adopted Local Plan was not far away.”
Well ... it rather depends on your definition of ‘Not Far Away’, doesn’t it?
Meanwhile, right across the country, where there is no adopted Local Plan and no 5/6-year land supply, the NPPF is causing utter misery in towns and villages, which are under attack from developers, seeking to profit from the planning vacuum.
3. At 10:07 am on 17th Jan Sandra Semple wrote:
“Not far away” - New York isn’t far away if you rent an executive jet!  It is CERTAIN that even a re-hearing of the Local Plan inspection will be well after the elections - when Mr Thickett, the Examiner in March 2014 had the hope and expectation that he would be re-hearing it in October 2014.
Now, either Hugo knew this and was prevaricating to say the least or he didn’t know it which makes him ignorant.
Personally, I am NOT surprised that, in a period of austerity, people don’t get on the property ladder at 21 amd when a government has relied upon house prices, credit and developers to provide “growth” the problemis firmly on HIS doorstep, not ours.
Hugo visits Clyst St George and Ebford, which are under huge pressure from development - Claire Wright

The East Devon Watch blog has brought attention to an analysis of the Parliamentary report:
Communities need more protection against unsustainable development | East Devon Watch

National Planning Policy – “Communities need greater protection against unsustainable development,” says CLG Committee


9th January 2015

CLG Committee makes 29 recommendations for improving NPPF, including setting up a remediation fund to boost development of brownfield land

The Communities and Local Government (CLG) Committee published a report last month on the operation of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF), which has now been in place for two and a half years. The 68-page report includes chapters on delivering sustainable development, local plans, land supply and town centres, and makes 29 recommendations for improvement.
To assess the impact of the NPPF, the CLG Committee brought together evidence from a number of sources, including national organisations, house builders, property developers, amenity groups, parish councils and local residents. The report states that the simplification to the planning system as a result of the NPPF was acknowledged by many witnesses, and that many of the larger organisations thought it was too early to fully assess its impact or to make changes. However, the Committee also received a large body of evidence that described the detrimental impact the NPPF was having on their local areas, with criticisms focusing on its failure to prevent undesirable and inappropriate housing development; and that it was giving insufficient protection to town centres against the threat of out-of-town development. Another criticism said that decision-makers were giving greater weight to economic over environmental or social considerations, and that sustainable development was not being delivered in respect of infrastructure, renewable energy and the natural environment.
Sustainable Development
The report states: “While the NPPF makes clear that the economic, environmental and social dimensions of sustainable development should be given equal weight, we were concerned to hear so many people tell us that this was not happening in practice.” The Committee recommends that the Government “take appropriate steps to impress publicly upon both the Planning Inspectorate and local authorities the importance of giving equal weight to each of the three dimensions of sustainable development, as required by the NPPF. Both the Planning Inspectorate and local authorities, when they make their decisions on planning applications, should set out clearly how all three factors have been considered as part of the decision-making process.”
The Committee also found that developers were taking advantages of loopholes in the NPPF “to launch ‘speculative’ planning applications leading to unwanted developments contrary to the wishes of local communities.” The problem was particularly acute, the report states, when a local plan or five year supply of housing land was not in place: “In these cases, developers take advantage of the absence of the plan or five year supply to seek planning permission in areas that local communities do not consider suitable for development.”
Local Plans
The Chair of the CLG Committee, Clive Betts MP, said:”Councils must do more to protect their communities against the threat of undesirable development by moving quickly to get an adopted Local Plan in place. The NPPF is designed to work side by side with local plans. At the moment, 41% of local authorities do not have an adopted local plan which is simply not good enough. To put an end to councils dragging their feet on this issue, we call for the Government to make it a statutory requirement for councils to get local plans adopted within three years of the legislation being enacted.”
Brownfield Land
On land supply, the Committee agrees that more homes should be built on brownfield land, but says it is not convinced the Chancellor’s local development orders policy will do enough to stimulate activity. As a remedy, the Committee says that, given the biggest barrier to more building on brownfield sites is the availability of resources to make the land suitable for development, it recommends that the Department for Communities and Local Government establish a remediation fund for brownfield sites.
Town Centres
The Committee also found that the NPPF and Government planning policies were not doing enough to ensure the health and vibrancy of town centres. Committee Chair Clive Betts said: “The Government should scale back ‘permitted development’ which allows shops and banks to become homes without planning permission. It is too random and is hollowing out the commercial heart of our town centres. Councils have to be able to plan strategically for the future of their communities.”
Some Responses
Responding to the report, the Town and Country Planning Association’s Head of Policy Dr Hugh Ellis said: “We strongly welcome the findings of this report which we believe plays an important role in opening the debate about the possibility of reforming the NPPF, and framing the debate for the next Government about the future of planning policy. We are particularly pleased with the report’s conclusions that a more robust definition of, and commitment to sustainable development is needed.”
Richard Hebditch, assistant director of external affairs at the National Trust, said that the Committee’s findings are the latest in a growing body of evidence that the NPPF is allowing developers to ignore the local communities it said would be at the very heart of its new approach. “The Government’s planning rules need revising,” he said, “so that they put people and places first.” The National Trust has published new research which shows that even a local plan is place, these are being challenged by developers. For more information, see the National Trust website.
The CLG Committee’s report Operation of the National Planning Policy Framework can be downloaded by clicking here.
Photo: “North London Sprawl” by Oxyman via Wikimedia Commons, licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.
National Planning Policy – “Communities need greater protection against unsustainable development,” says CLG Committee | Environment Specialists

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