Simplification of Planning Guidance to encour

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News article

Simplified planning guidance encourages sustainable growth 

August 2011

planning & construction news

National planning policy informs the basis for every local plan and is taken into consideration in the determination of planning applications. The Government believes that the volume and complexity of the existing guidance has made the planning system increasingly inaccessible to all and in the Coalition Agreement committed to turning the abundance of national planning policy into a clear, tightly focused document, setting out national priorities and rules.

The result is a new national framework for the planning system which safeguards the environment while meeting the need for sustainable growth. The National Planning Policy Framework, recently published for consultation by Planning Minister Greg Clark, is intended to simplify the planning process replacing over a thousand pages of national planning policy contained in the 25 existing Planning Policy Guidance Notes and Planning Policy Statements with 58 pages of guidance aimed at allowing people and communities back into planning.

The draft Framework sets out a presumption in favour of sustainable development stating that 'Local Planning Authorities should plan positively for new development, and approve all individual proposals wherever possible'.

This presumption in favour of sustainable development means that planning applications should be approved promptly unless they compromise the key sustainable development principles set out in the draft Framework.

The pro-growth agenda set out in the draft Framework also seeks to safeguard the natural and historic environment. It maintains the Government's commitment to protecting the Green Belt, Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, Sites of Special Scientific Interest and historic and cultural heritage, whilst at the same time promoting the need for renewable energy projects and green transport solutions.

At the heart of the Framework is the need to re-empower local communities. The Framework makes provisions for local communities to set out their vision for local area, setting planning policies for the development and used of land, through a Neighbourhood Plan. The ability of local communities to designate areas of local green space to be protected from development is also strengthened. Developers are also encouraged to engage with local communities and undertake pre-application consultation wherever possible.

Summary

The draft Framework requires that development is carried out in a sustainable way, meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. The Framework is considered by the Government to be central to the economic, environmental and social success of the country and will be the core principle underpinning planning.

The pro-development agenda as set out in the Framework is a positive step forwards for the planning system. However, implementation of the contents of the Framework relies heavily on local planning authorities being able to deliver its aspirations; how local authorities will interpret the need to 'plan positively' for new development in their local plans and in determining planning applications will only be known over the course of time.

With increasing emphasis on the empowerment of local communities, it is unclear how the pro-development agenda will work in 'NIMBY' communities. Notwithstanding this, engaging with the local community will be key to gaining support for development proposals. Development proposals which fail to consider the needs of the community will quickly flounder.

For further information, contact Liberty Stones on 01530 410844 email liberty.stones@fishergerman.co.uk

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