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NPPF to unlock 1,000 major developments a year, government estimates

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The government’s planned shakeup of the planning system could allow an extra 1,000 large-scale developments to proceed, documents reveal

Details contained in an official report show how far the government anticipates its proposed National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) will boost building.

The reform which includes a presumption in favour of sustainable development would mean an extra 1,200 hectares a year are built on, according to the Daily Telegraph.

A major development is defined as any project larger than one hectare or 1,000m² in floor space.

The scale of the government’s ambition for the reform was revealed in a Regulatory Impact Assessment document seen by the newspaper.

It read: ‘Greater provision for development needs will enable more planning applications, for more development, to come forward in the expectation that they will be approved.’

The revelation came as past presidents of the Royal Town Planning Institute called for a ‘reasoned’ debate over the NPPF following objections raised by the National Trust and Council for Protection of Rural England (CPRE).

A public letter by the presidents said haste in the progress of the reform was causing ‘uncertainty for the development industry and anxiety for communities.’

It added: ‘Good planning is also about the long, as well as the short term. What we need is a reasoned debate and clear thinking on managing this major change.’

The CPRE has warned that the planning system’s ability to protect the countryside could be undermined and has launched a campaign asking the public to petition planning minister Greg Clark over the policy. 

The Country Land and Business Association however hit out at ‘overreaction’ surrounding the reform, describing the opposition as ‘ill-informed’.

A statement from the membership organisation which represents landowners said: ‘[The] presumption is about taking a balanced approach to planning applications and is not a licence to develop for housebuilders’.

The outgoing chief of the British Chambers of Commerce, David Frost, has also voiced support for the reform, emphasising the potential economic benefits.

When the draft NPPF was published in July, architects and planners welcomed its emphasis on local decision-making and ‘innovative’ design.

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