Today at the NLP NPPF event Steve Quartermain clariefed that his chief planning officers letters issued with the NPPF did not mean what it said.
In a letter sent to chief planning officers following the launch of the NPPF, Quartermain said that the
muddlinehelpline – 0303 444 5500 – had been established to “assist with questions planning authorities may have about the implications of the framework for plan-making or decision-taking”.
But Quartermain said today: “The advice is not geared at telling you: ‘This is what the policy means’.” Quartermain said that instead the helpline would give advice about the process councils can follow to test their policies for conformity against the NPPF.
He said: “What it’s geared at is trying to aid local planning authorities who might ring up and say: ‘We’ve got a plan that we’re about to submit to the Planning Inspectorate, what should we do?’”
“We’ll give you advice about the process that you can follow to test what your policies are. We can give you advice on bespoke packages that can be applied to individual circumstances.”
Quartermain said that the government intended to publish a frequently asked questions guide online shortly.
So it did not mean then ‘implications for…decision-taking’ at all then? That you for that
Quartermain’s comments came as questions were raised over the potential ambiguity over parts of the NPPF, including on how far local plans can conflict with the new framework during the 12-month grace period that councils have to bring plans into line with national policy.
There are also questions over how much extra land councils need to plan for on top of the required five-year supply.
Of course we have commented on this many times on here and here and here. A well known figure from one known DCLG agency even went so far as suggesting I was being ‘mischeavious’. Err I responded that the mischief was entirely of the DCLGs making through refusing to clarify important matters of policy ambiguity that were shared by almost all of the profession and which it seemed the DCLG had not properly thought through in modelling how real world local planning authorities would and should apply the NPPF in their day to day casework.
Im glad though that the DCLG have realised how dangerous it is to give off the cuff and potentially incompatible answers through a helpline and have taken up my suggestion of an FAQ (and hopefully in futre an errata) where necessary.
In a few weeks time I have an Eland House meeting to talk about the FAQ, of course that will be Chatham House. So if there are any questions you would like me to put/think about please comment below or email me.