3 Key Plans Hit Mid Examination by #NPPF- and yes they will have to be radically revised

Planning Resource

Hearings for the Milton Keynes core strategy have been delayed until July to give participants time to consider the NPPF as well as updated evidence on housing and employment.

Elsewhere, inspectors have opened further consultation on the impact of the NPPF on core strategies including those for Bath and North East Somerset and Bournemouth.

Woking Borough Council was also due to discuss the impact of the NPPF on its plan in the final days of its examination this week.

Chris Banks, programme officer coordinating Milton Keynes, Bath and Woking’s examinations, said that the NPPF may not require plans to be revised, but further consultation will be needed.

Sorry Chris but all three will have to be radically revised which will most likely require withdrawal and resubmission, and it wasn’t the most sensible thing to say as it pre-empts the process, why:

  • Two of the three propose (not Bournemouth) far less housing not ‘objectively assessed needs’ require
  • These two fail the new soundness aspect of the ‘duty to cooperate’ if not the legality side (see our analysis on this point and the recent York letter) – through abandoning strategic planning arrangements including in MKs case failing to meet needs of the wider area – and in falling short simply shunting needs onto the next examination of other affected authorities (in Woking’s case Surrey, Kent and Hampshire Outside the Green Belt), and of course RSS is still extant and its revocation would make no difference on that point anyway those wider needs still exist and joint arrangements are needed to meet them and the new soundness tests.

It is better to let the inspector do the talking.

British Planning ‘No Way to Run a Whelk Stall’ Kevin Murray #NPPF

Kevin Murray is one our best known and respected planners so his comment under the ‘annex 1 confusion; piece here is worth wider attention

This piece just goes to show what a shocking and disgraceful state of disrepute the (formerly British, now English) planning system has fallen into.

Once held up as an innovative world leader, English planning is now becoming an anachronistic joke, with no stability or clarity for its users, and is altered at the whim of politicians every few years, whilst not understanding we carry much of the process and place baggage forward cumulatively from each cycle. (New changes are no doubt already being planned for the post Coalition era…)

Unlike most countries with a national planning framework, the system is appallingly weak on the substantive spatial nature of places to be created (and therefore the core subject of planning), and it has become the plaything of politicians, place-blind Treasury mandarins, with the main beneficiaries of the uncertainty being lawyers and planning consultants, who do not necessarily have an interest in simplified solutions.

This is no sane way to run a whelk stall or jumble sale effectively, never mind a 21st century state’s infrastructure and settlement regime. The flexible and discretionary nature of English planning learns no lessons from the past, and teaches nothing positive to other countries, as the 1909 and 1947 approaches did. Perhaps only Heisenberg would have the capability to define its continually mutating state.

If a country, at a time of limited resources, spends much of its time on activities that constitute abortive costs or wasteful displacement, when medium to long term investment is made by others, one is left to wonder just where this will leave future generations who will inherit the place infrastructure.

Profession Downbeat on Impact of #NPPF – Planning Resource

The results of their survey

86.4 per cent said that they expected a rise in appeals in the short-term.

67.7 per cent of respondents said that they did not expect the revised NPPF to lead to a reduction in planning-related costs for businesses. The figure for private sector consultants was 71.1 per cent.

56.5 per cent said that they did not think that the revised NPPF puts too much emphasis on economic growth.

Respondents were split over whether the revised NPPF will make it easier to secure permission for schemes without local planning authority (LPA) support. 40.4 per cent of respondents agreed that that the framework would make it easier to secure permission without LPA support, while 34.7 per cent disagreed. The remainder were unsure.

67.2 per cent of council-employed planners think that the revised NPPF will not enhance the planning system’s protection of the natural environment. The figure was 45.8 per cent for private sector consultants.

74.5 per cent of private sector consultants believe that the revised NPPF will not reduce development delays caused by the planning system. The figure was 77.4 per cent for council-employed planners.

Only 25.8 per cent of council-employed planners believe that the revised NPPF will lead to an increase in the number of planning permissions. The figure was 37.3 per cent for private sector consultants.

Although giving us a 0.1% accuracy on a sample size of 161 is a nonsense.  My calculation is that the average 95% confidence interval is +/- 7.64% you can do the calculation here (the assumption is based on 10,000 planners – RTPI or not in England)

Now Windfarms have to be designed for aesthetics too Andy Boddington #NPPF

CPRE magasine

Wind farms would be far more acceptable in rural settings if they were spatially designed for aesthetics as well as efficiency.

So many wind farms are just a clutter of turbines, stuck in green fields without any feel for the lie of the land. I love Bryn Titli in Radnorshire because it is sensitive to the land it sits on. It is so aesthetic it should have won the Turner Prize for art.

But Bryn Titli is an exception. The view inland from Aberystwyth has been ruined by a dreadful clutter of turbines. The unique heritage sites at Lyveden New Bield and Naseby in Northamptonshire are other examples where spatial aesthetics have been trashed in the dash for wind energy.

If wind farms were housing or industrial development, the spatial layout and aesthetic impact would be a significant factor in considering whether to grant planning permission. A single turbine, like a house, may be beautiful. But if it is just dumped insensitively in the landscape, it loses many of its qualities. 

This is set to change. Part 7 of the National Planning Policy Framework says that good design is essential for a sustainable planning system. “Permission should be refused for development of poor design that fails to take the opportunities available for improving the character and quality of an area and the way it functions.” This applies to wind farms just as much as it applies to housing.

So the message to wind farm developers is simple. Energy at the cost of design is not sustainable. You must stop ignoring landscape aesthetics. As of last Tuesday.

I would add that para. 97 of the NPPF states ‘cumulative landscape and visual impacts’ as a material consideration.  Which would make the argument in the recent infamous Northamptonshire appeals by the same rouge inspector something of a nullity.

Ugly plastic window giant on the #NPPF and ‘sustainable’ windows #planorak

Velux Press Release

On 27th March 2012, Paul Hicks of VELUX, commented on the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF):“Sustainability remains an all too elusive term in the new NPPF framework. The ‘greenest government ever’ has missed a golden opportunity to address the need for new homes to consider the health and well-being of their occupants, something that has been exacerbated as house-builders are required to build homes to increasingly stricter energy efficiency standards.

“Increased light and ventilation is known to help counter and prevent common ailments such as asthma and other respiratory illnesses and our carbon-neutral CarbonLight Homes have been designed and built with these features at the heart of their design. We hope that energy performance monitoring of the homes involving two test families will help in developing a new benchmark standard for developers as well as homebuyers, with councils and local people coming to demand that these issues are addressed in planning applications in their area.” 

Now of course several countries have banned PVC-u windows because of there lifescyle impacts from the energy used in their production.  the AECB carbon-lite project is fantastic – much better that the failed eco-homes standard as it is much simpler and embodies the proven Passivhaus standard.  But this says nothing whatsoever about embodied energy in construction.  For any developer to say on top of matching any standard, even gold, that their homes are ‘sustainable’ they should qualify this as ‘sustainable in use’ – and for Zero carbon hub homes should say ‘sustainable in use – apart from all domestic appliances which dont count’.

Now I could go on all day about this, and to be fair to Velux they dont just make plastic windows these days, here is exhibit a from Green Spec.


1200 x 1200 2x glazed, air or argon filled MJ per window kg CO2
Aluminium frame 5470 279
PVC frame 2150 – 2470 110 – 126
Aluminium clad timber frame 950 – 1460 48 – 75
Timber frame 230 – 490 12 – 25
Krypton filled add: 510 26
Xeon filled add: 4500 229

Confusion Abounds over Meaning of Annex 1 of #NPPF #Planoraks

With the first committee meetings post NPPF coming through im getting reports of wildly different interpretations around the implementation section.  As this seems to be the one part of the NPPF written by lawyers not planners perhaps this is understandable.

The structure would appear to  be, especially following the latest PAS advice, that put simply 214 = DPDs adopted prior to NPPF publication, 215=all other adopted plan policies  adopted prior to NPPF publication and 216=emerging Local Plan DPDs.

But the confusion – and a Cornwall committee meeting last night I’m hearing horror storeys of rests over the following issues

  •  Is it para 214 or 215 that applies for pre 2004 act local plans adopted after the 28th Sept 2004 due date under the transitional provisions?

Looking at footnote 39 and PCPA 2004 Schedule 8 para 12 and associated regulations I think 214, though opinion seems split on this issue.  I would find it hard to argue that a core strategy adopted in 2006 is somehow of more weightiness than an old style local plan adopted in 2008.

  • As 215 refers only to plans, rather than adopted plans does it also refer to old style local plans than never reached adoption.

This is the position in parts of Cornwall where the plan updating process was abandoned due to LG reorganisation and it is the best they have for zoning purposes of greenfield sites for housing.  It also applies in a surprising number of other LPAS where government offices advised not to use the transitional provisions and get on with core strategies, which have still not reached adoption.   The cllrs position in Cornwall seems to be that it does, and enraged agents (‘stupid cllrs’), say not.  Frankly you could argue it either way.  Clearly 216 for example is not arguing the implementation provisions only apply to adopted plans.  Now you could say that since inspectors have always given such relic non-adopted plans ‘limited weight’ it matters little, however it is being argued that ‘due weight’ in 215 implies a new doctrine of more than limited weight!

There are also two ‘chance your arm’ arguments I have heard from the more aggressive style of agent

  • Forget about all the caselaw on weight (Tesco, Gransden) etc.  Annex 1 sets new more up to date doctrines.

Errr The Planning System General Principles still applies –  ‘Naaaa large parts of it have been red inked by the NPPF’.  The NPPF cant trump the law ‘Naaah, those are 80s/90s cases setting principles in the light of the framework of policy then, now its changed, the courts will take a different view’

  •  That because 215 doesn’t mention DPDs adopted between the date of NPPF publication and a year from that date, after 27 March 2012 215 will apply to those and all DPDs, leading to policy matching of adopted plans to NPPF at every appeal case even  for all newly adopted plans – like you had prior to PPS1/the 2001 act where the inquiry was just the beginning and not the end of the battles.


This could of course all be swiftly avoided if the Planning System General Principle guidance was swiftly updated and reissued, even in advance of other guidance, and of course written in plain English in the implementation section – rather than footnotes referring to schedules and regulations that most planners had forgotten about half a decade ago.