Will Local Finance Clause Amendment meet Localism Bill Section 130 concern?

Hansard  The amendment was passed though opposing lords were unconvinced.  Ill comment at the end as this is one of the 10 NT asks – be prepared for some planning law – ese. Its a complicated issue.

Amendment 223CA

Moved by Earl Attlee

223CA: Clause 130, page 123, line 4, at end insert-

“(5) The amendments made by this section do not alter-

(a) whether under subsection (2) of section 70 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 regard is to be had to any particular consideration, or

(b) the weight to be given to any consideration to which regard is had under that subsection.”

Earl Attlee: My Lords, your Lordships will recall our helpful debate in Committee on this clause, when we dealt with an array of issues. I shall give a brief reminder of the key points before moving on to the amendments now tabled and the issues that I understand still worry some noble Lords.

I start by reiterating the Government’s purpose here. As my noble friend Lady Hamwee noted in Committee, the issue of local finance incentives and planning decisions was made topical by the new homes bonus, or NHB. When we consulted on that scheme, uncertainty was expressed about its relationship with planning. The CPRE was concerned enough to seek a legal opinion, which implied that the scheme might taint the planning decision-making process. The supposition was that the scheme might encourage local planning authorities to take non-material considerations into account when determining planning applications for new homes.

The CPRE is right to keep a keen eye on this issue but in some instances its press releases and briefings have unnecessarily added to the sector’s confusion and alarm. It has raised fears that that NHB will undermine the planning system and result in,

    “hugely damaging consequences for local communities and the environment”,

and result in any local decision in which a local finance consideration were taken into account being,

    “legally ‘tainted’ and open to question”.

The clause itself which the Government prepared in an attempt to ensure that local finance consideration would not be taken into account in inappropriate circumstances-in other words, to address the CPRE’s core concern-has been branded as,

    “a brazen attempt to legalise cash for sprawl”

and as a temptation for local planning authorities to,

    “fill shrinking coffers by permitting any development, regardless of its environmental impact or the views of local communities”.

All such claims, though doubtless borne of genuine concern, are based on a false premise about the effect of the clause. As such they are rather misleading. To be clear, the clause simply restates the existing legal position, confirming for the avoidance of doubt that, like any other consideration, a matter such as the NHB or CIL must be taken into account if they are material to the planning application under consideration.

Inevitably, the CPRE activity on this issue has not helped the confusion already apparent in the sector, evidenced, for example, by the London Borough of Islington which, in its response to the NHB consultation, said:

“The government should make it clear whether NHB can be taken into account as a material consideration when determining planning applications”.

It was precisely to address this confusion and to give a clear and lasting reminder that local finance considerations should be taken into account only where they are material in the long-understood sense-in line with case law-that Clause 130 was prepared.

It is clearly untenable to allow confusion to linger, particularly within the bodies responsible for making planning decisions. As I said in Committee, this would undermine the planning system’s integrity and affect public confidence. Making the legal position more clear should reduce the risk of local planning authorities being accused of letting financial incentives improperly influence their decisions and so facing legal challenges to their decisions.

In Committee, my noble friend Lady Hamwee asked why the necessary clarification could not be given in guidance. As I indicated at the time, we thought carefully about the option. However, the Government concluded that with confusion on this legal and technical issue so prevalent, the only responsible option was to bring the desperately needed clarity to the fore by using the Localism Bill.

Given the significant accusations the CPRE was asserting, the consequent confusion that local planning authorities were faced with, and the grave risk which that confusion posed to the proper operation of the planning system, we felt it essential to clarify the position and clear up the confusion in law. Using the Localism Bill presented the most immediate and visible way to set the record straight on this important message. As the confusion concerned the legal position it made sense to use legislation to clarify the point and provide councils with reassurance on what they should and should not legitimately do.

It may be helpful if I remind the House of the tests for a material consideration. I know some noble Lords remain uncertain as to the circumstances in which the NHB or the community infrastructure levy might be material to a particular planning decision. Current statute confirms that in determining planning applications regard must be had to the development plan so far as it is material to the application and to any other material considerations. Statute does not define what a material consideration is but clear tests for materiality have been developed through case law.

The classic statement is to be found in Stringer v Minister of Housing and Local Government. It states:

“Any consideration which relates to the use and development of land is capable of being a planning consideration. Whether a particular consideration falling within that broad class is material in any given case will depend upon the circumstances”.

In order to be material, therefore, a consideration must relate to the use and development of land and to the planning merits of the development in question. These tests apply to all considerations, financial or otherwise, and are not altered by the clause.

Clause 130 clarifies that regard should be had to,

    “any local finance considerations, so far as material to the application”.

What this means in practice is that regard should be had where, and only where, the case law tests on materiality are satisfied; that is, where the local finance consideration in question relates to the use and development of land and relates to the planning merits of the development in question.

I am conscious that concerns were expressed in Committee that the clause as drafted might do more than this. There were suggestions that it might elevate the status of financial considerations above others; threaten the probity of planning; send a message that under the new system planning permissions can be bought and sold; allow financial inducements that are irrelevant to the merits of a particular development proposal to be material, and similar horrors. We took these concerns very seriously. We have taken all possible steps to ensure that the clause absolutely does not have the potential to result in such unintended consequences, and we have been consistently reassured on these points. Although it is not customary for Government to share their legal advice, perhaps it is opportune and helpful to do so on this occasion. I can categorically confirm that the Government are in no doubt that the clause as drafted does not represent any change in the current law whatever. It is declaratory of the current law, which is that where local financial considerations are material to a planning application they should be taken into account in the determination of that planning application.

Furthermore-this is of direct relevance to the concerns raised previously by noble Lords-the Government are absolutely certain that the clause does not require greater consideration to be given to local finance considerations than to any other material consideration. The decision-maker retains the discretion to determine the weight to be attached, subject ultimately to the supervision of the court. To reiterate: the Government are confident on these points. However, we do not wish to dismiss the understandable and well-meaning concerns of noble Lords. We have not just blithely continued on our way without reflecting very carefully on the issues raised. Instead, we made a genuine commitment to consider further the wording of the clause to ensure that it is absolutely clear that apportioning weight remains a matter for the decision-maker. As noble Lords can see, we have now fully honoured that commitment and have brought forward an amendment which should put noble Lords’ concerns completely beyond doubt.

As noble Lords will see, Amendment 223CA makes it absolutely explicit that the new reference to local finance considerations does not affect the weight to be given to any particular consideration. We have provided even greater reassurance by additionally confirming that the clause does not alter whether regard is to be had to any consideration. Apportioning weight remains a matter for the decision-maker. It may assist your Lordships if I give some simple examples to illustrate when matters relating to the NHB or CIL are likely to be material or not. In Committee, I used examples relating to new housing developments and the funding of improvements to commuter links. In the interests of variety, I shall use a different scenario. Take a situation where NHB and/or CIL moneys pooled by an authority will help fund new flood defence measures. In determining an application for a major housing development within the area to be protected, the fact that the scheme would generate funds to support the provision of the necessary defences would be material: it is clearly relevant to a planning issue arising from the proposal at hand. What, though, if the new proposed development would take place elsewhere, on land not at risk of flooding? The development would still result in moneys which would help fund the flood defences and this would still be a reasonable use of the funds. However, the provision of flood defences would not be material to the determination of the planning application.

Put simply, the crucial issue is not the nature of the policy instrument that results in funds being accrued, whether or not the Government require authorities to ring-fence funds for a particular use; it is whether at the local level there is a commitment to spend those funds on something that relates to the development and use of land and the planning merits of the planning application that is being considered. In practice it is likely that CIL will be more material in more instances than NHB. This is a natural consequence of the fact that authorities are free to spend NHB funds as they see fit while CIL must be spent on infrastructure needed to support the development of the area.

Of course, where regard is to be had to NHB or CIL, the local planning authority will need to be confident at the planning decision stage that the funds will be used to deliver the infrastructure anticipated. It will be for the charging authorities concerned to put adequate safeguards in place to ensure that the funds are spent appropriately and for the local planning authorities to be satisfied that the developments will be acceptable in planning terms, having regard to any relevant infrastructure that they can legitimately expect to be provided by the charging authority. Of course, none of this fetters the ability of an authority to choose not to spend its NHB moneys on matters relating to specific developments. The funds could, for example, be distributed as funds to local communities to spend as they wish. This would be a legitimate use of the funds, but in such circumstances the funds will notbe a material consideration in planning decisions.

I now turn to Amendment 223D. This amendment, tabled by my noble friend Lady Parminter, proposes that Clause 130 be withdrawn from the Bill. We have been clear that the clause does not alter the law but merely clarifies a topical point of confusion. Noble Lords may well ask, therefore, why the clause needs to remain in place. The simple answer is that having come so far in clarifying the question of when a local finance consideration should and should not be taken into account, it would be regrettable indeed to throw this matter back into doubt. Withdrawing the clause would not change the law. It would remain the case that decision-makers must have regard to any local finance considerations that are material to the planning applications that they determine, but there would be no clear reference in statute to this point. I hope that I have left your Lordships in no doubt that, irrespective or whether we are all in agreement that the clause is essential, we can at least be clear that it does no harm. I beg to move.

Comment
The unusually lengthy legal explanation and advice set out in the parliamentary record is significant as it will make it almost impossible to apply financial considerations as a material consideration in any other way than set out as above, as a material consideration only to the extent that it helps overcomes a planning objection. This will go some considerable way to overcoming concerns. But only to the extent of creating much further confusion. In practice if a local planning authority has a CIL schedule that includes infrastructure that would help overcome some issue related to the development (and given they cover so many issues a chargeable development not linked in some way to the CIL schedule would be rather rare) that would be material, as would the New Homes Bonus – but heres the rub this is not ringfenced and the New Homes Bonus could only be taken into account as a material planning consideration if the local planning authority by resolution ringfenced or committed part of anticipated expenditure to overcoming some infrastructure issue  related to the development.  If it did this the government is right to say that it is no different to S106 monies etc. and this is a material consideration in the same way it always has been.

The problem will come if local planning authorities do not have clear schedules of planned infrastructure, an infrastructure delivery plan.  If they dont and a cllr piped up in a planning committee ‘I think we should approve this because we will get £2million NHB’ that would be eminently challengable.  It would certainty be helpful in the revised NPPF if the government did stress the need for infrastructure schedules and the need to assign New Homes Bonus spending to specifically to them.

Will this satisfy campaigning groups? The amendments and this statement effectively mean the law on material considerations is status-quo ante, so although they might take further advice my guess would be yes.  Rather it shifts the onus on the government to issue advice in the finalised NPPF to ensure that the New Homes Bonus is considered and assigned in a proper manner, as a means of funding infrastructure.

Imagine though a case where an LPA decided to spend 50% of its NHB on infrastructure the other 50% on filling a hole in the social care budget.  Each cllr voting would effectively have to have in their minds ‘I will only take 50% of the NHB into account’ how silly.  All of these problems could be avoided if the expenditure of NHB were ringfenced to infrastructure (as defined in the CIL regs).  I know the government has an ideological aversion to ring fencing, but without it here it could create a potential for uncessary legal challenge on many planning applications.

Action for Market Towns #NPPF Response

Action for Market Towns response to the consultation on the draft National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF)

  • AMT represents market towns and small towns – where 20% of population lives.

  • AMT concerned that definition of ‘sustainable development’ not consistent throughout document.

  • Concerned that interpretation of ‘sustainable’ may be misinterpreted or misused: “We need to ensure that unscrupulous developers cannot use the presumption to avoid presenting plans that are well-constructed and abide by appropriate standards. We also must ensure that developers cannot just bamboozle a community into approving a plan that is against the community’s interests.  The planning process should become more, and not less, democratic.”

  • Reference should be made to community led plans.

  • AMT supports the fact that the NPPF maintains the ‘town centres first’ policy approach – but very concerned that  NPPF’s wording has been reduced and somewhat changed, which could result in a dilution of the effectiveness of the town centre first policy.  This might also result in the misinterpretation of the policy by some.

  • NPPF should include statement to the effect that the presumption in favour of sustainable development should not override the ‘town centre first’ policy where there is no adopted Local or Neighbourhood Development Plan.  And the development control tests set out in PPS4 – the sequential test and the impact assessment framework – should be retained.

  • AMT keen to ensure that diversity of town centres is not understated and want NPPF expanded to include more than just a focus on retail and leisure and instead refer to make reference to broader drivers for creating sustainable town centres.

  • AMT concerned that some developers will use the lack of an up-to-date Local Plan to submit proposals that do not meet local requirements or the needs of a local community, especially in areas where there is no adopted Neighbourhood Plan.  Where there is an adopted Neighbourhood Development Plan, but no up-to-date local plan, we would like clarity over whether it is the Neighbourhood Development Plan or the NPPF that would take precedence.

  • Essentially, NPPF needs greater clarity.

Action for Market Towns (AMT) – the national organisation representing small and market towns in the UK, where up to a fifth of the population lives, has submitted its response to the Draft National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) after consultation with its own members.

Policy Manager Alison Eardley said:“The draft National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) has certainly stirred debate, and Action for Market Towns, like many organisations, is very concerned about the Draft. As it stands, it is open for misinterpretation or misuse and gives developers the opportunity to bamboozle communities into improving plans against community interest.“However, AMT supports the idea of Neighbourhood Planning putting greater decision-making powers and more funding decisions in the hands of local people.“AMT has long championed Community Led Planning in its broadest sense and its experience shows that with determination and a little guidance communities are ready to take control.“Our response has enabled us to voice both our concerns with the NPPF and our support for Community Led Planning.”

Read AMT’s full response to the Draft NPPF here {opens pdf}

Grant Shapps tweets to confirm no second #NPPF consultation

@PlanningMag story on 2nd NPPF Consultation plain wrong! Consultation ended Mon. We’ll now read all responses. No second consultation.

One wonders then what ministerial or SPAD source briefed Planning resource and how DCLG ministers got their wires so crossed.

How can they know if they need a second cosnultation or not until they have read the consultation responses and decided on the scale of changes needed.

Planning Advisory Service Blog – the #NPPF nobody Knows Flag

Here

Do you watch the TV show QI, now in its umpty-something series? They’ve recently introduced a new feature, called ‘Nobody knows’ where the panel wave a sign if they think Stephen Fry has asked a question to which there is no known answer. I’d wave this if I was asked ‘what does the presumption in favour of sustainable development mean?’

A lot has already been written and said about it. From my perspective some of the fogginess is around

  •  the balance between the three pillars of economy, social and environmental considerations; although the government maintains that all are equally important and it isn’t all about the economy and growth, other government statements and the NPPF taken as a whole along with the last budget and the Plan for Growth, make it easy to conclude otherwise.
  •  how the presumption fits with the legal requirements from the planning Act for a presumption in favour of the plan and consideration of other material considerations
  • how, in the absence of an adopted plan, you can apply the NPPF policies either when taken as a whole or individually, to minor and other developments.  Will you really have to demonstrate that an inappropriate roof extension, for example, undermines national policy?

But thinking about the practicalities, and adopting a ‘let’s get ready’ rather than a ‘let’s wait and see’ approach, how might you start preparing for what may – or may not if you listen to some  – be a change to how you make decisions and define what sustainable development means for you. Bearing in mind, of course, that the current NPPF is a draft not a final document.

Para63 of the draft says ……“In assessing and determining development proposals, local planning authorities should apply the presumption in favour of sustainable development.” But how is this defined, or applied, at a local level?

Look to para 4 ‘Taken together, these policies articulate the Government’s vision of sustainable development, which should be interpreted and applied locally to meet local aspirations’ (my emphasis).

This has to be done locally – a development may be sustainable in a regeneration area that wouldn’t be so in a National Park. So your approach does need to be set out locally – but a lot of this will already have been done in the sustainability appraisal work either done or going on or perhaps through other corporate work.

In an ideal world, you would have an adopted plan which is clear about your approach to sustainable development (let’s set aside the issue of conformity with the NPPF for a moment and assume that it is). This is where you would set out how you’ve interpreted and applied the Government’s NPPF vision for sustainable development locally. But we know that many areas aren’t likely to have a plan in place by the time the NPPF is published and the presumption kicks in. What could you do as a way of articulating your position as of now to give some guidance to the community and developers of your priorities for sustainable development?

These are just some thoughts, not  tried or tested recommendations.

Starting with your evidence base – you are probably already thinking about what is still relevant (I prefer that term to ‘up to date’; some evidence could have been done a few years ago but probably won’t have changed). Other evidence will need reviewing if the recession has had an impact on it. Even without a plan and with the presumption, your evidence is a material consideration relevant to decision making.

Secondly – what about making an explicit statement, which sets out yourpriorities for sustainable development for your place. This work will already have been done, or underway, in the SA and any statement would draw from that.

Finally, what about a statement (or whisper it), an SPD which sets out how you are going to look forward and implement policies to achieve your sustainable objectives. Of course getting the plan in place would be better, but if that isn’t going to happen quickly, would a statement outlining your approach help give some guidance and certainty to developers?

Would that work…………….wave that nobody knows flag now

DCLG Press Office 4 Week Consultation on Second Draft #NPPF ‘Not True’

Just rang the DCLG press office and they read me out, and emailed me, a statement

A DCLG spokesperson said:

There will not be an additional consultation for the draft National Planning Policy Framework. The consultation closed on Monday, and we will then carefully consider all the suggestions made and publish the final document in due course.”

Very interesting.  Clearly Jamie Carpenters story was well sourced.  Can only speculate on a source but the language used on being disappointed with NT/CPRE etc was identical to that used by Bob Neill Mp at his breakfast event this morning 🙂

Speculation but has the treasury/cabinet office/eric pickles stamped down on this perfectly reasonable and practical suggestion?  If so we may not be in the realm  of reasonable discussions about wording but all out campaigning again. More chaos and confusion from Eland House – just when things were looking promising.

Design Council – Cabe launches Bishop Review – Finding a new sense of purpose

Today I attended a breakfast briefing at the design council to launch the ‘Bishop Review’ a review by Peter Bishop  ‘to clarify and recommend a nation-wide system of support to deliver design quality in the built environment.’ The consultation process engaged with over 450 individuals and organisations. Rather than continuing with a centralised system of design support and Design Review services, the review proposes that Design Council Cabe must work with and through its partners across the country.  A series of local and regional apnels are proposed including for the first time one dedicated to London.

The system of providing Design Review needs to be refreshed to be more responsive to developers and relevant to communities. In part this can be accomplished by the delivery of Design Review closer to the development site. London alone lacks a subnational Design Review panel. This should be rectified, with Design Council Cabe taking responsibility for delivering Design Review in London. In the absence of core funding for Design Review, it should be paid for through planning fees as it can help bring confidence and certainty to developers and local authorities.

The report quotes without comment some of the criticism of Cabe: -CABE, at its maximum size of 120 staff, was too big to be focused, but too small to effectively discharge its brief at local level. — CABE became inflexible and lost its creative panache as it matured. As its statutory weight within the planning system grew, so did the responsibility to comply with the formal procedures of the public sector. CABE became institutionalised. On the issue of charging it states:

The question of charging for Design Review was widely debated, with the predominant view being that costs should be born by the development industry and therefore embedded in a revised planning fee system

Although the review also covers research and promoting best practice its overwhelming focus is on design review.  After criticising The UK Green Building Council today for responding to a consultation without mentioning green buildings im not going to criticise DC-CABE for trying to develop a workable new design review system, and the suggestion for regional rather than primarily a national panel is a useful way forward.

At the launch Peter Finch – in answer to a question on how this ‘creative panache’ could be regained said the best way to look nimble is to be naughty and that CABE should have criticised some things more  – notably the quickstart housing programme – where it should perhaps have ‘blown the whistle’.

Being under the Design Council  represents a huge opportunity.  David Kester sees the world as a design problem looking for a design solution.  That is exactly where CABE should go.  What does sustinable design mean for example and how can it be embedded and disseminated?

There was a fair bit of discussion about how design outcomes can be influenced in more ‘everyday’ cases such as small and medium scale housing schemes in rural areas, often schemes that generate heat but go nowhere near a design review?  Neighbourhood planning is supposed to be the solution here, but what happens when developers arent yet ready to bring forward schemes on the sites in question?  There does appear to be gaps in the spectrum from neighbourhood planning to application to design review.  Design control, as design, is end to end process and is design review too late to intervene?  It clearly works best when there is a willing client and good designer who can take criticisms on board.   Whilst design review is a key methodology is the design improvement armoury it would be wise to research gaps in the emerging planning system where applications are frequently refused on design grounds (for example elderly peoples housing) and offer best practice design measures that can be replicated, as well as helping develop new methodologies where it is most needed, such as relating to village and urban extensions in rural areas, on an interdisciplinary basis where needed.

 

Second Draft 4 Week #NPPF consultation – Jamie Carpenter Planning

Planning understands that the second draft version of the NPPF will have a consultation period of four weeks.

The consultation on the first draft of the NPPF closed yesterday, with the National Trust – one of the most vocal critics of the reforms – handing over a petition with around 210,000 signatures demanding that the government make major changes to the document.

Ministers are understood to be disappointed by what they see as the unhelpfully aggressive nature of the campaigns from the trust and countryside lobby group the Campaign to Protect Rural England.

But Planning has been told that the government “never expected to get the document perfect” first time round and is open to making changes in the second draft.

Further analysis of the next steps for the NPPF will be published in Friday’s print edition of Planning magazine.

Great news, hinted at yesterday.  When might this take place?  Practically mid Jan at the very latest.  Also no consultation could run over the Christmas holidays. Also indicates that the revisions will be great enough to require a second consultation.  A few changed paragraphs would not need it, but new content would.

UK Green Building Council #NPPF Response – doesn’t mention Green Building Standards?

UK-GBC response to the NPPF

I had to read this one several times because I was looking for some comments on green buildings standards – nothing? How odd.

INTRODUCTION
UK-GBC is a membership organisation that is campaigning for a sustainable built environment – one that minimises negative environmental impacts whilst maximising benefits for people everywhere. Launched in 2007 to offer clarity, cohesion and leadership to a disparate sector, we bring together anyone involved in the complex process of planning, designing, constructing, maintaining and operating buildings. A registered charity, we work with our members – who are mostly businesses, but also NGOs, government agencies and academic institutions to deliver radical change.

UK-GBC supports efforts to simplify the planning system and streamline planning guidance and we welcome the opportunity to comment on this consultation. Feedback from our members suggests the current system of PPSs and PPGs is overwhelming and time consuming for all involved, and therefore we welcome efforts to make the system more straight-forward and more responsive.

UK-GBC believes that new developments should be a means to help solve sustainability problems and issues, rather than create new ones. They can do this by for example, delivering high quality, efficient and well-designed buildings supported by sustainable, low carbon infrastructure; through the regeneration of urban fabric; by enhancing biodiversity and community facilities and through the creation of jobs.

UK-GBC believes the industry has a responsibility to deliver the highest quality, most sustainable development it can in any given location. In return, the industry needs as much certainty as possible about what they will be required to deliver through a clear national planning policy framework and reliable local plans, thereby enabling and de-risking investment decisions.
We are working with our members to outline what best practice standards and guidance at the local level should look like and we will be pleased to share this with CLG in due course.
GENERAL COMMENTS
Definition of sustainable development
We strongly support the emphasis on ensuring development is sustainable, and acknowledge the reference in the NPPF to the Brundtland definition. However, we would prefer to see a definition of sustainable development which explicitly recognises environmental capacity, and is based on the 5 principles of sustainable development outlined in the 2005 Sustainable Development Strategy Securing the future. We would support the inclusion in the NPPF of the following statement (proposed by Friends of the Earth in an amendment to the Localism Bill):

sustainable development” means development that meets the social, economic and environmental needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs including the application of the following principles:
(i) living within environmental limits;
(ii) ensuring a strong healthy and just society;
(iii) achieving a sustainable economy;
(iv) promoting good governance;
(v) using sound science responsibly.”
However, even with the inclusion of this statement, the NPPF is a high level national document, and in order to ensure we actually deliver sustainable development on the ground, it is vital that local plans are both robust in terms of requiring high standards but also pragmatic in terms of ensuring development is deliverable, viable and offers the best sustainability solutions for the location/build type.
What the industry needs most from the planning system is certainty. When business has certainty it can make investment decisions based on a stable policy framework, and create jobs and growth. When the system is uncertain, this can result in legal disputes, delay and a hiatus in development.

Our serious concern is that local planning authorities (LPAs) often do not have the capacity and resources to produce comprehensive and timely local plans. In order to help fill this capacity and resource gap, and in order to learn from and build on best practice projects delivered by our members across the country, UK-GBC proposes to develop good and best practice guidance for developers and planners as part of our Green Building Guidance Task Group1. This will be developed with cross-sectoral input and will not re-invent wheels or recreate tools, guidance and standards but will sign-post to those currently available. Our intention is that this would provide some ‘default’ sustainability performance standards for both developers and planners and we propose that these could then be used to help LPAs to develop their local plans.

Specific points There is a need for clear ‘transitional arrangements’ from the old planning system to the new system. Otherwise there will be a lack of certainty amongst both planners and developers, and a potential for conflict and a hiatus in development.
The lack of focus on ‘town centre first’ policy is deeply concerning. Out of town offices/other developments are often not a sustainable option, and instead we need a focus on urban regeneration which helps town centres to flourish and protects the countryside.

UK-GBC supports the particular emphasis on the need to achieve ‘radical reductions’ in greenhouse gas emissions through both new and refurbished developments.

Developments will also need to adapt to the changing climate over the coming decades and we would welcome clearer advice on climate change resilience and adaptation.

There was a welcome emphasis in Open Source Planning on a collaborative approach to planning. However there are concerns that this emphasis is not so strong in draft NPPF. Experience on the ground is that it can be difficult to get developers, planners and local communities around the table, so we would welcome a stronger emphasis on a collaborative approach and the opportunity to facilitate this with our members.

There is a need to unlock funding and sites for infrastructure development. We have an infrastructure deficit and we need to ensure the delivery of infrastructure is joined up. In the absence of Regional Spatial Strategies, the duty to cooperate across local authority boundaries should include a requirement for authorities and key stakeholders to plan jointly for strategic infrastructure. This could, for example, include reviewing opportunities to roll out district heating networks in suitable areas. Zero carbon energy infrastructure could be supported through capital raised by developers of new buildings through ‘Allowable Solutions’ payments into a Community Energy Fund as previously recommended by the UK-GBC.

Good design is critical – development is not sustainable if it does not also promote good design. Local authorities should have a clear vision for their area. We welcome the proposed design review, and believe the panels should be independent and expert.

Sustainability is a complex subject and the development of skills for the delivery of sustainable development is essential for all stakeholders involved in the planning process. Through the UK-GBC Sustainability Training and Education Programme (STEP) we are improving awareness and understanding of sustainability across the industry and building the capacity of professionals, including planners and developers, to embed it in their decision making.

CPRE Final #NPPF response

Here

CPRE has strong concerns that the draft National Planning Policy Framework would be both unworkable and damaging as a statement of national planning policy. The draft policies threaten both the long term health of our countryside and sustained investment in urban areas, and seek to promote economic growth seemingly at any cost, rather than development that is truly sustainable. This document sets out our key concerns and points of evidence in this summary, followed by our key recommendations to address these issues.