A new National Planning Policy Framework has been introduced in the UK by planning minister Greg Clark aimed at streamlining a system which has been stifled by bureaucracy.
It aims to allow more building on green field sites and make it compulsory for local authorities to publish local plans so that the building industry can move faster.
But it will not create a building free for all with developers required to build on brown field sites ahead of green field sites, and a more robust town centre policy that will allow empty offices to be converted into homes.
The Royal Institution of Charted Surveyor said that it supports the government’s vision of reforming the guidance to the planning system.
‘However, we would also like to see to government address the serious problems currently affecting the UK housing market, such as the lack of affordable mortgage and development finance. Reforming the planning system in isolation will not deliver the 100,000 extra homes required each year or the jobs needed to breathe life back into the UK’s anaemic housing market,’ said Jeremy Blackburn, RICS head of UK policy.
‘However, the NPPF provides a robust framework alongside existing national policy statements and we are optimistic that sustainable development can be delivered. Carefully targeted professional guidance and detailed good practice notes will be central in supporting the process and this is a job for RICS and the other professions. The time has come to stop talking and start delivering the development and growth UK Plc so badly needs,’ he added.
John Adams, head of planning at Drivers Jonas Deloitte, said there are bound to be teething problems.
‘It is great to see a new presumption in favour of sustainable development, as part of a suite of policies designed to promote growth. However, local authorities who have rightly pressed ahead with Local Plans as part of the Government’s localism agenda could find them inconsistent with the Framework,’ he explained.
‘Many councils have been arguing that there needs to be a transition period and that the NPPF will need to be brought in incrementally, to allow local authorities to amend their plans to make them NPPF proof. Others have argued that growth cannot be put on hold and the NPPF policies will need to come into immediate effect and with full force,’ he added.
Also different local authorities could still interpret the definition of sustainable development, according to Paul Smith, director of Apex Planning Consultants.
‘For years the planning process has had a reputation for being confusing, bureaucratic and slow but the arrival of the pared down Planning Policy Framework is no guarantee that things will get simpler. Once conflicting precedents are set, the waters will quickly be muddied,’ he said.
‘What is clear is this document does not give carte blanche to developers intent on building on green belt land. Opponents who raise the spectre of urban sprawl are being disingenuous at best and misleading at worst,’ he added.