The Princes Foundation for the Built Environment has demanded ‘significant’ changes to the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) as the consultation period on the new rules draws to a close
Foundation chief executive Hank Dittmar (pictured) called for greater clarity over ‘sustainable’ development but said what was needed was ‘less like a heart transplant, and more like day surgery’.
The NPPF aims to streamline the UK’s existing planning system and includes a presumption in favour of sustainable development. A four month-long consultation period for the draft policy closed today (17 October).
Writing in The Daily Telegraph, Dittmar argued that in areas without local authority plans applications should only be approved where they meet all national policy requirements.
He also said that green field development should only be allowed where it can be proven the site is better connected to built-up centres than brownfield alternatives.
He went on to urge the inclusion of ‘built capital’ within the NPPF’s definition of sustainable development.
He explained: ‘By this we mean the qualities that make a place worth living in: design that reflects local character; walkable streets and squares framed by buildings and nature.
‘It is vital that the NPPF addresses these factors, since it is they that create the opportunity for social and economic vitality and environmental improvement.’
The RIBA suggested a number of amendments to the policy, calling for the government to place ‘high-quality, inclusive design’ at the core of the planning system.
The institute asked for further guidance on design codes, local standards, community consultation and energy mapping and the reinforcement of the need for design review panels to be independent and cross-professional.
Furthermore the RIBA recommended that local authorities should take account of the recommendations of design review panels when considering planning applications.
RIBA president Angela Brady said: ‘We are very supportive of the draft National Planning Policy Framework which we believe provides a strong steer for local authorities and neighbourhoods on how to develop their local plans.
‘The NPPF sends a clear message to councils to reject poor quality development and to aspire to build better. We hope that planning authorities will take up this challenge.’
Planning consultancy DPP also called for greater clarity over ‘sustainable development’ but said the policy fell short of opening the ‘floodgates’ to development.
In a statement, DPP partners said: ‘The draft NPPF does mark a shift towards a more pro-development mindset but this is to be welcomed; it is a positive move by the coalition government in the current economic climate.
‘Moreover, whilst the tone of the draft NPPF is one of a positive approach to new development, it also provides support for the rejection of schemes which run contrary to key sustainable development principles, is of poor design and is inappropriately located.’
Property consultant Cluttons meanwhile insisted the government ‘must not succumb’ to ‘voices of objection’ which are unrepresentative of majority opinion, it claimed.
Malcolm Chumbley, head of UK development agency at the company, said: ‘At the moment, developers are in limbo, and this cannot continue if we are to tackle the housing crisis we are facing.
‘The time for action has come, and we need to see viable plans to house the nation implemented. The alternative is a crisis which will freeze the house-building sector and cripple UK growth.’
Kate Henderson, the chief executive of the TCPA added: ‘The draft NPPF seeks to simplify and streamline planning policy, however in doing so there is a vagueness around some of the key concepts, such as the presumption in favour of sustainable development, which may be subject to clarification through the courts, resulting in planning by appeal and delay to decision-making. There is also a need for appropriate transitional arrangements to minimise confusion at this time of change and ensure that approved development does not grind to a hault.’