Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Report Outlines Changes to Policy to Give Developers More Clarity; WHO'S PLANNING WHAT?

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Report Outlines Changes to Policy to Give Developers More Clarity; WHO'S PLANNING WHAT?

Article excerpt

Byline: KEVIN SANDERSON

THE Government's proposed blueprint for the future of planning guidance across the country is nearing completion, with some important consequences for developers and occupiers alike.

However, this National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) has had something of a bumpy ride through Parliament.

For example, last month saw a report from the Commons Communities and Local Government Select Committee, outlining a number of recommendations for changes to be made to the draft NPPF, which is currently due to be finalised and published by the end of March.

Whilst the committee says it applauds the Government's intention to create a streamlined policy document for planning, it believes that there is a need for greater clarity, with the current draft being "unhelpfully vague" and that "critical wording has been lost", which could leave a number of policies open to a number of interpretations among planners and developers alike.

The committee calls states for more precise and consistent drafting in order to produce a tighter, clearer document. Recommended changes include a narrative at the start of the NPPF stating where policy has stayed the same, but has been simplified or summarised; where new policy has been introduced, where current policy has been changed or removed, and the relationship of the NPPF to other national policy documents.

The committee recommends that a timetable for transition should be prepared by the Government in consultation with local government to clarify for local authorities and developers alike, the status of existing arrangements for development control during the transition period.

Other suggested changes include the need for a clearer definition of sustainable development, which must give a clear indication of what constitutes sustainable development, while encouraging local authorities to apply this definition to their own local circumstances and allowing them the scope to do so.

To the outsider, this may appear like splitting hairs, but this definition is one of the most important elements of the NPPF; acknowledging that, the framework states that the presumption in favour of sustainable development "should be seen as a golden thread running though both plan making and decision-taking". …

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