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New Government Planning Policy is a step in the right direction

11th Apr 2012

ȁC;The recently announced National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) is long overdue in the hopefully positive overhaul of the Government's attitude towards building the new homes that the country desperately needs,ȁD; said Richard Henley MRTPI, our Land, Planning & Development Director.

“By championing a more locally focused approach to encouraging the ‘enabling’ rather than the ‘managing’ of development there is now a greater emphasis on the regeneration of brownfield sites and redundant/empty buildings in sustainable locations, especially in town centres.”

The reduction of the red tape associated with Planning applications is evidenced by a new 53 page Guidance replacing well over 1200 pages. In 2011 just 115,000 permissions were granted – half the 2006 level and half the 235,000 required each year (Home Builders Federation).

An additional 114,000 houses are needed to meet the demand and the new policy is designed to help speed up the process.

“It is a step in the right direction for housebuilding and growth – with a sought-after clear balance between development and protecting the Green Belt,” continued Richard Henley. “But it is still all about how each individual local authority will interpret the new policy.”

It is this interpretation that also concerns house builders, like Shanly Homes, whose Regional Manager of Planning, Sam Tiffin says: “The emphasis on the presumption in favour of sustainable development is what we wanted, however I still hold a significant level of doubt whether this will significantly boost housing supply. In the first instance we will need clarification from ‘Decision Makers’ on how they are choosing to interpret the NPPF. So, far from speeding up the planning process, I fear that the removal of over 1,000 pages of guidance will only lead to unnecessary extra time and expense in seeking this clarity, in order to gain the necessary decisions to build new homes. ”

Richard Henley also has reservations about the dilution of the NPPF content in comparison to last year’s draft. “It looks suspiciously like a document that has been watered down as a result of there being a coalition Government and their need to arrive at a consensus, which may not have the effect we would all have hoped for. So, it is more an amber light than a green one!”

Richard and his experienced, professional team are available to advise on all planning matters, especially in relation to this new National Planning Policy Framework.

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