‘Sensible’ changes to planning framework welcomed

* Transitional arrangements – Local authorities with a post-2004 local plan that is broadly in line with the NPPF will be able to use those policies for 12 months. For local authorities with no up-to-date plan, the NPPF is now active;

* The definition of sustainable development – this has been strengthened to include the Bruntland definition;

* Brownfield first policy – this has been strengthened to prioritise more clearly the use of previously developed land;

* Five-year land supply – Local Authorities with a good track record at allocating land for housing must earmark a five-year supply plus 5%. Others must earmark a five-year supply plus 20%;

* The intrinsic value of countryside – this has been included in the NPPF following its removal from the first draft;

* Town centre first policy – this has been strengthened and office development re-included, with an exemption for rural businesses.

The BPF believes amendments to the Framework, such as the inclusion of a requirement for developers to build on brownfield sites ahead of greenfield sites, a more robust town centre first policy including office development, and a revised definition of sustainable development – all changes the BPF has been championing – will go a long way to easing the concerns of the NPPF’s critics.

The BPF believes the debate must now move on to how the NPPF will work in practice given around half of local authorities still have not produced a Local Plan, and the complete lack of any underpinning guidance to support the document.

Liz Peace, chief executive of the British Property Federation, said: "We believe the NPPF is now a more moderate and sensible document. The changes to the framework do not, however, alter its overall objective of supporting well-planned sustainable growth within a streamlined, plan-led system.

"Government has made some sensible concessions while still ensuring that local authorities must provide homes and jobs where they are needed.

"What’s needed now is clarity over how the NPPF is going to be implemented. Urgent questions remain over how local authorities should determine how many homes and jobs they need, and what the guidance that underpins the NPPF should be.

"And those local authorities that have failed in the last eight years to draw up an up-to-date Local Plan must now get on and create one. Hopefully the transitional arrangements announced today will be the spur they need."

Meanwhile, Jeremy Blackburn, RICS Head of UK Policy, said: "RICS supports the Government’s vision of reforming the guidance to the planning system.
"However, we would also like to see Government address the serious problems currently affecting the UK housing market, such as the lack of affordable mortgage and development finance. Reforming the planning system in isolation will not deliver the 100,000 extra homes required each year or the jobs needed to breathe life back into the UK’s anaemic housing market.

"However, the NPPF provides a robust framework alongside existing national policy statements and we are optimistic that sustainable development can be delivered. Carefully targeted professional guidance and detailed good practice notes will be central in supporting the process and this is a job for RICS and the other professions. The time has come to stop talking and start delivering the development and growth UK Plc so badly needs."

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