The government published the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) on 27 March 2012. It came into effect immediately.
The NPPF aims to reduce the planning barriers to growth, while at the same time involve people more in planning decisions in their local area. It has a presumption in favour of sustainable development, that is, achieving development that meets economic, environmental and social goals.
The draft NPPF attracted fierce criticism. The government takes account of the biggest concerns in the revised version, notably:
• confirmation of the development plan as the basis for planning decision-making locally
• a fuller explanation of what it means by sustainable development
• recognition of the ‘intrinsic character and beauty of the countryside’
• support for brownfield development
• stronger support for town centres
• clarification of the relationship between local and neighbourhood plans
• a 12-month, supported, timetable for implementation.
These changes attracted widespread support when the NPPF was published, not least because of the willingness of the government to revise policy in the face of considerable opposition. However, doubts remain as to whether a document that has received the backing of both the development industry and conservation groups is in fact detailed enough to resolve local disputes without lengthy adjudications by planning courts rather than committees.
This briefing is targeted at elected members, especially those with planning responsibilities and local authority planners.
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