National Planning Practice Guidance (NPPG) published online
I came across an interesting piece of news online. A final version of National Planning Practice Guidance has been launched by DCLG (Department for Communities and Local Government) with an aim to make the planning system easier to use.
The Planning Minister Nick Boles in his written ministerial statement said, “Planning should not be the preserve of lawyers, developers or town hall officials” and that local communities should be able to shape the new development. They should possess the knowledge as to where the development should and should not go.
Boles highlighted a number of points of how the government was going to tackle the issues in planning which include,
Issuing robust flood risk guidance;
Green belt protection to be taken seriously;
Testing the soundness of the local plan where the authorities have failed to identify land for growth;
Counting of windfalls over the whole local plan period;
Considering student housing, housing for the aged and reusing vacant properties in order to assess the housing needs;
Infrastructure constraints to be considered when the sites are assessed for suitability;
Bringing brownfield land into use and that authorities do not have to allocate sites on the basis of providing maximum profit to the developers;
Keeping a check on delivery records;
Incorporating the guidance on renewable energy and consideration to be given to visual impact;
Past over-supply of housing to be taken into account;
Joint working between local authorities encouraged and also stressing on the point that duty to cooperate is not a duty to accept.
It is interesting to see how government is actively working on making the planning system easier to understand and comprehend for the ordinary people. One of the reforms in the guidance regarding the conversion of use from shops and financial and professional services into homes without the need for planning permission is both interesting and scary. It is interesting because we will now see a lot of land use conversion from commercial to residential taking place all over the country. It is scary because we might loose a lot of valuable commercial space. For a simple reason that the current housing crisis will lead to a lot of land use conversion. Once commercial spaces are converted into residential, it would be very difficult to get the commercial space back. Although they mention that this would not be the case for the sites within National Parks and World Heritage Sites. But we all know we can’t possibly go build houses within National Parks and World Heritage Sites.
Another interesting reform is that they have made barn conversions easier. Up to 450sqm of buildings for each farm can now be allowed to be converted into a maximum of three houses. They have made it clear that the councils will have to give robust evidence in cases of refusal of such proposals.
This new published guidance might be a good news for the ordinary people but might make the work of planners more difficult.
Written Statement to Parliament : National Planning Practice Guidance