Over 50 people from a variety of backgrounds came along to Wynyard last week to either partake of the excellent breakfast provided by Tilly Bailey and Irvine or to listen to a seminar Prism offered up on the National Planning Policy Framework.
Whatever your views on the planning process, the NPPF is clearly going to change the way that projects are tackled and assessed. Many members of the audience were clearly surprised to find that even though the NPPF is national guidance and even though it abolishes the old system of Planning Policy Statements, the policies in the document might not affect decision making in some areas for another year.
The RTPI, amongst other contributors, wanted a longer transitional period before the new guidance took effect and presumably the 12 month stay is the Government’s nod in this direction. For a while at least, we will have a two tier system: Those authorities that have been efficient and put their plans in place will be able to avoid applying the guidance for 12 months whilst those who haven’t got local plan coverage adopted before 2004 will find themselves immediately caught by its thrust.
The guidance is clearly radical in a number of key areas – the presumption in favour of sustainable development being the most talked about. Others might think the concept of the problem solving planning department is also quite a novel concept! However those contemplating retail development or wanting to build a house in the Green Belt will find the position is pretty much as it was before the NPPF.
There has been a lot of interest in the possibility that barn conversions might once more be coming back to the table although it remains to see how many LPA’s are going to try to reject the principle because it is inherently unsustainable!
More generally we are finding that many LPA’s are happy to immediately take on those parts of the guidance that they feel most comfortable with but are clearly not so keen on taking up the more challenging aspects; particularly where it involves new housing coming forward to meet identified shortfalls. We suspect that the full impact of the guidance will not be felt until there have been a few well publicised appeal decisions featured prominently in the bi-weekly ‘Planning Magazine’!
Interpreting the guidance, its intentions and its applicability is clearly not going to be easy. Here at Prism we are more than happy to have an initial no obligation chat with you to see whether we can help.