The Government has now published the final version of its National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF).
Over the past few months this document has been out to consultation and during that time it has received some criticism, especially from those wishing to preserve both green spaces and heritage. It seems, if press reports are to be believed, that many of those complaints have been assuaged.
However, in all those consultation issues it seems that one of the major elements of this new framework has been missed – the relationship now between national, local and neighbourhood planning.
On one hand the Government is to be applauded for reducing a National policy of over 1,000 pages down to just over 50. Whilst some might relish this deregulation they easily forget that the key driver for this was to hand down more planning policy to the local and neighbourhood so that they alone can determine their own policies for the place in which they live. These ideas were presaged in the Localism Act and the announcement of the NPPF is the next key building block in enacting the Localism Act.
There are some who argue that this fragmentation of policy will mean extra development costs as architects struggle to work with a range of local authorities each with differing policy. It is clear this is an issue but the power of the argument for localism makes this inevitable – and as some older architects have told me this used to be the issue with Building Control before national regulation came into being.
As the phrase goes ‘the tectonic plates are moving’, and it is wise developers who understand that local needs will drive local policy and to ensure you get the best chance of success at planning you now need to engage more with Councillors, planners and the communities they serve.
Centralisation is dead, long live localism
Image by Marco Torresin