From Plan-it law this lunchtime
A marked up “official” (but leaked!) draft NPPF found its way into my inbox this morning – so naturally I felt it was my duty to look through it. I compared it with the version produced in May by the practitioners advisory group.
The base document for the official version is clearly that which was offered by the advisory group. Some provisions are still awaiting comments (in particular the housing provisions) but by and large, there are not many amendments to the advisory group version. However the following struck me;
1 Not only is the presumption in favour of development (including “the default answer…is “yes””) retained, but it is beefed up.
2 However, where the advisory group version had a saving for development which would cause significant harm to the objectives of the NPPF itself (in which case the presumption may be defeated), the official version speaks in terms of “unless the adverse impacts…would significantly and demonstrably outweigh the benefits when assessed against…. (NPPF)” – which seems to allow more scope for the presumption to be overcome.
3 Neighbourhood planning appears prominently – with clarity around neighbourhood plans being able to promote more development than in the Local Plan, and a push for local and neighbourhood development orders. Policies in Neighbourhood Plans will take precedence over existing policies in the Local Plan.
4 The importance of viability and genuine deliverability of sites remains in the official version, which also makes clear that market signals like house prices and commercial rents need to be taken into account. In fact there seemed to me to be a clear sub plot to bring forward much greater levels of development in areas of high prices.
5 The advisory group version played down the role of allocations in Local Plans, leaving those to “sites central to the plan”. The official version reinstates the broader use of allocations however.
6 There is a clear attempt to bolster the duty to cooperate. For example, there is now an outcome focus to the consultation and inspectors examining a Local Plan must assess whether it has been prepared in accordance with the duty. The local enterprise partnership will have a role in collaboration on strategic planning and the delivery of economic growth.
7 The official version claims legitimacy for the taking into account of financial considerations in planning decisions. No doubt this will depend on the Localism Bill.
8 Planning permission should not normally carry a condition requiring a 106 to be entered into. More detail around the rationale for this would have been useful.
9 In the advisory group version there was, in the transport section, an acknowledgement that the private car will continue to form an important mode of transport. That has now gone – in favour of wording around taking account of the circumstances in different communities.
10 The waste section has been deleted – we are to look to the emerging National Waste Management Plan for guidance here.
11 In the Historic Environment section, it seemed to me that non designated heritage assets (eg locally listed buildings) will have reduced protection.
12 There is a specific and positive reference to the development of new schools.
This seems a fair assessment of the key changes.
I would only add:
-The addition of a section on Defence and National Security Considerations.
-The return of the notorious ‘double presumption’ in favour of housing from the pre-PPG3 days of the 1980s. Ill write some more specifically on this soon.
-The ‘one plan’ local plan principle is dropped – the local plan=LDF.