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National Planning Policy Framework Released

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Posted on 3rd April 2012

It hopes to simplify the planning process....

The government published the National Planning Policy Framework on 27 March 2012, this is effective immediately and replaces over a thousand pages of national policy with just 50. It hopes to simplify the planning process. Central to the document is an emphasis on approving developments which are seen to be sustainable, and that the presumption in favour of sustainable development should be seen as a “golden thread running through both plan making and decision taking” (Paragraph 14) for Local Planning Authorities. Most parties seem happy with the final version after lots of dissatisfaction with the draft policy where it was seen as a ‘builders charter’. Click here for the full text.

The introduction gives a clear definition of ‘sustainable development’ showing that the three dimensions need to be considered together when plan and decision making. ‘There are three dimensions to sustainable development: economic, social and environmental. These dimensions give rise to the need for the planning system to perform a number of roles:

  • an economic role – contributing to building a strong, responsive and competitive economy, by ensuring that sufficient land of the right type is available in the right places and at the right time to support growth and innovation; and by identifying and coordinating development requirements, including the provision of infrastructure;
  • a social role – supporting strong, vibrant and healthy communities, by providing the supply of housing required to meet the needs of present and future generations; and by creating a high quality built environment, with accessible local services that reflect the community’s needs and support its health, social and cultural well-being; and
  • an environmental role – contributing to protecting and enhancing our natural, built and historic environment; and, as part of this, helping to improve biodiversity, use natural resources prudently, minimise waste and pollution, and mitigate and adapt to climate change including moving to a low carbon economy.’

Time will tell if implementing the policy will be easier for all parties. By handing the decision making over to the local councils and neighbourhoods rather than there being a prescribed list of rules will no doubt lead to numerous appeals in the coming months.

Imogen Taylor

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