Cross post from Campaign Against Sprawl
We have posted a new version of our alternative draft of the NPPF.
We have also completed our questionnaire response including the response to the impact statement
We have also published a table of para by para changes we think are needed.
And a justification of the alternative draft policy innovations and changes from the NPPF consultation draft.
This is the first draft which contains all of the policy content, changes and stress we wanted. It has also been subject to a thorough proof check (thanks the world Jan) and a lot of feedback and ideas. A lot of silly errors and mistakes have been corrected.
Bar a final checking consistency of all of the package and a professional index that will be that and we intend to send the response in on Weds 12th to avoid last minute DCLG mailbox congestion. The alternative draft is the top document, so if any of the others in the package are misaligned please refer to the alternative draft.
Throughout our approach has not been to draft the NPPF as we would like it in an ideal world but to redraft the NPPF in a way which met current imperatives in a manner which might prove acceptable across the party spectrum, regaining a cross-party consensus in planning suitable for troubled times. In an ideal world there would be a lot more upfront on urban regeneration and much more throughout on infrastructure co-ordination. But mechanisms for this simply arn’t in place at the moment.
It was important to ‘freeze’ the document before the end of the consultation to help other groups finalising their response. However once we have seen other para by para responses we can continue to refine it and seek agreement, that is if the government at last puts forward some ideas and structure for a talk process. We have suggested a project plan for such a process we have yet to hear a response.
There is also the first real stirrings of groups beginning to come together to pool their ideas for changes. Its not as quick as we and others would like but things are moving.
The Main Developments Since the Previous Draft
Like Planning Policy Wales those policies that need not be repeated in local plans are indicated – in this case in bold.
Some small tweaks to the language used in the section on the definition of sustainable development.
The chapter on making planning decisions has had a lot of work. A few gaps, such as on probity, have been filled and a few errors corrected. We have also had a chance to throughly go through the abortive PPS on development management and pick up on what was useful and essential.
We have tweaked the single planning and design statement section and now includes reference to up front affordable housing offers. This links with a later section designed to prevent delays from negotiating affordable housing section 106s, which we know is a key concern of ministers.
A key section on planning permissions not being bought and sold from the planning obligations circular has been included. as well as a reference to wherever possible planning obligations heads of terms being agreed prior to application decision.
This chapter includes a new section ‘Local Decision making’ pulling together key issues to be considered at the point of decision. It also stresses the need for good reasons where a development contrary to the plan, the NPPF, officers advice or advice of a statutory consultee. It recommends local review mechanisms in place where this occurs, a pragmatic second best to third party rights of appeal and potentially avoiding call in of some cases.
The ‘good planning test’ has been tweaked a bit to clarify issues professional had raised. We have also clarified the weight to be given to emerging plans and made the link to transitional arrangements is made clearer in the following chapter.
In the plan making section we have picked out in section 3-7 the key components of plans and how they link together.
On the evidence base requirement we have clarified how the issue of ‘suppressed households’ and housing affordability is to be handled.
On viability we include links to RICS and HCA advice on this matter (in an ideal world the SOS should ask them to produce a joint guide).
On strategic planning a small clarification on the appropriate scope of strategic planning (3-32), as well as clarification on when the results of joint working need to trigger a local plan dealing with more than local land use requirements (3-35).
On transitional arrangements, the weight to be given to development plans is now stressed in a more legally appropriate form of words (3-49).
On design we now have a proper definition of inclusive design.
Transitional arrangements for existing design guidance is set out (4-10).
Correction of some errors in the housing section (esp para 7-8)
The idea implicit in the previous draft – that there was a quid pro quo, more housing land for better, more sustainable and more affordable housing is clearly set out (7-21) named a housing compact.
Transitional arrangements are suggested in a number of areas where local areas have relied on national policy. This includes affordable housing site size thresholds, exceptions sites and parking standards. These are key local concerns.
A couple of key points from the affordable housing practice guide are included to avoid a policy gap – i.e. mortgagee in possesion and specification of providers. The definition of affordable rent is tweaked to reflect what is actually going on on the ground – i.e. negotiations on market rent discounts, and so the government does not box itself in with an overly specific discount level in national policy.
Correction of a few errors in the section on appropriate uses in the Green Belt.
The wording on the encouragement on the use of the Passivhaus standard has been tweaked.
We have defined low carbon energy (page 59) which is rather important in assessing certain applications such as incinerators. We have included some more glossary definitions including of zero-waste.