Today has been a quiet day in the office, a time for reflection on the meaning of life and the National Planning Policy Framework that has just appeared yesterday. Yesterday we faced a barrage of phone calls from anxious clients wanting to know how they were affected by the new proposals and whether it really was the developers charter as some wilder parts of the media had suggested.
Mr A, who owns a field in the middle of nowhere in particular was most disappointed that he didn’t have his golden ticket for his new house but for other clients the position seems less clear.
On the one hand we are told that the guidance takes immediate effect and that decision makers should apply its principles straightaway. Yet buried in the back of the document, hidden in the annex is the statement that for 12months from the date of publication, decision makers may continue to give full weight to their old LDF policies, even when they conflict with the new NPPF, provided the ‘old’ policies stem from no later than 2004.
A number of us who have struggled with the absurdities of ‘One App’ validation requirements will perhaps take heart from the idea that validation lists should be frequently reviewed and that LPA’s should only request information that is relevant, necessary and material to the application. I wonder if that means I don’t have to procure the Air Quality Report sought for a proposed leisure development built just above the high tide mark up the coast from here?
I was pleased to see the continued reference to LPA’s looking for ‘solutions rather than problems’ and the continued emphasis on approval of sustainable developments wherever possible. However from past experience I shudder to think how we are going to get to grips with measuring and assessing sustainability.
There is interesting and positive clarity on the greater emphasis given to assessing viability and it is interesting to note the reference to mitigation taking into account the need for competitive returns to a willing landowner and willing developer. Now all we need to do is to work out how to use the HCA’s assessment tool and we have got it cracked!
I was also struck by the new definition of Veteran Tree defined because of its great age, size or condition. This got me thinking to the prospect of a Veteran Planner defined because of its age and circumference…..I certainly think I qualify on both fronts!
I’m sure that as I continue to plough through the guidance there will be more interesting nuggets of new information to delight and frustrate us in equal measure so I’ll keep you all posted with my thoughts.