1. DCLG published the consultation draft of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF), together with its associated consultation document, Impact Assessment and media summary on 25 July 2011. The NPPF is intended to bring together Planning Policy Statements, Planning Policy Guidance Notes and some Circulars into a single consolidated document.
2. The draft NPPF contains a number of references to the presumption in favour of sustainable development, and the need to support economic growth through the planning system. These have previously been trailed in the Written Ministerial Statement on `Planning for Growth’. It states that local planning authorities should:
– prepare local plans on the basis that objectively assessed development needs should be met, and with sufficient flexibility to respond to rapid shifts in demand or other economic changes;
– approve development proposals that accord with statutory plans without delay; and
– grant permission where the plan is absent, silent, indeterminate or where relevant policies are out of date.
3. The draft NPPF is likely to be referred to by the parties in current appeal and development plan casework. Whilst it is a consultation document and, therefore, subject to potential amendment, nevertheless it gives a clear indication of the Government’s `direction of travel’ in planning policy. Therefore, the draft National Planning Policy Framework is capable of being a material consideration, although the weight to be given to it will be a matter for the decision maker’s planning judgment in each particular case. The current Planning Policy Statements, Guidance notes and Circulars remain in place until cancelled.
4. Inspectors are strongly advised to familiarise themselves with the draft NPPF and also with Part B of the Impact Assessment (`Changes to National Planning Policy’). Annex B sets out the policy changes noted in Part B. When conducting casework you should have regard to the consultation draft guidance and to the general advice in Annex A.