28 March 2012
No, says planning expert John Whittaker director of WYG, he believes the recently announced National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) amounts to little more than a summary of the various national planning policy and guidance that has become established over the last 24 years.
The NPPF doesn’t change the law that gives primacy to the development plan, or the 2004 Act that introduced the requirement to exercise the function of preparing development plans ‘with the objective of contributing to the achievement of sustainable development’.
It does however open up more opportunities to local planning authorities (LPAs) to introduce their own policies on a range of matters that have previously been set out in national planning policy, including targets for the development of previously developed land, housing density and parking standards. Whittaker believes this is a risk and that the loss of guidance at a national level will tempt local planning authorities to fill the void in ways which will restrict growth and economic development at the local level.
Speaking in response to the NPPF which comes into effect immediately John said: “Although its substance does not represent a radical departure from the current raft of national policies, the words in the NPPF will give a new opportunity for interpretation by all of us with an interest in planning. It’s important for everyone involved in the planning process to familiarise themselves with its provisions. Planning is rarely black and white and the NPPF does not change that fact.
“Real change to the planning system is only likely to occur with legislative change or radical policy change that, following the emotionally charged debate on the NPPF, seems unlikely in the near future.”