The National Planning Policy Framework has finally arrived, prompting a rush of speculation and evaluation on how it differs from the initial draft NPPF. But how does it differ from the national planning policy we were using prior to 27 March 2012?
Pro-Growth – The presumption in favour of sustainable development is a ‘golden thread’ running through plan-making and decision-taking. The NPPF requires development to be approved without delay where it accords with the development plan. The bar has been raised for demonstrating harm.
Localism – Unprecedented power into the hands of communities, according to Greg Clark, DCLG Minister. This will encourage communities to be more vocal, and local planning authorities (LPAs) to exercise greater independence. Less prescription from the national level means that Councils can take a greater role in achieving a vision relevant to their area.
Plan-making – Plans must be prepared with the aim of meeting development and infrastructure needs.
Housing – Supply should be boosted ‘significantly’. LPAs must plan for the entirety of identified need, including a 5% buffer (rising to 20% where there has been persistent under-delivery).
Town Centres – The ‘Town Centre First’ approach is maintained with tweaks to the sequential and impact tests. Cumulative impact is not mentioned.
Design – Good design is not about imposing particular architectural styles or tastes.
It is worth noting that there are apparent inconsistencies in the text. It will be interesting to see how these are dealt with as the NPPF is applied.