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Planning shake-up: NPPF brings 'most exacting requirement for design ever'

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Planning Minister Greg Clark has today unveiled the National Planning and Policy Framework (NPPF) - the biggest shake-up of the planning system in more than two generations

Speaking this lunchtime (27 March) in Parliament, Clark said the simpler, pro-growth framework would maintain the existing protection for the greenbelt and ‘raise the bar’ on design standards.

He said: ‘[The NPPF] will have the most exacting requirement for design that the English planning system has ever contained.’

Clark added: ‘Too much development in recent years has been mediocre, insensitive and has detracted from the character of the areas in which we live and work. The effect has been that much of the public have come to assume that any particular change to our built environment will be negative.

‘What a disastrous state of affairs in a country which is home to some of the most talented architects, designers and craftsmen in the world.’

The minister said the NPPF would encourage growth on brownfield sites and in town centres, while protecting back gardens and playing fields.He said: ‘The NPPF makes explicit what was always implicit: that councils’ policies must encourage brownfield sites to be brought back into use.

Sustainable development embraces social and environmental as well as economic objectives

‘It also underlines the importance of town centres, while recognising that businesses in rural communities should be free to expand.’

Clark said: ‘[Our reforms] enshrine the local plan – produced by local people – as the keystone of the planning system. The framework is crystal clear that sustainable development embraces social and environmental as well as economic objectives and does so in a balanced way.’


At the heart of the National Planning Policy Framework is a presumption in favour of sustainable development, which should be seen as a golden thread running through both plan-making and decision-taking.

Local planning authorities should have local design review arrangements in place to provide assessment and support to ensure high standards of design.
They should also when appropriate refer major projects for a national design review. In general, early engagement on design produces the greatest benefits. In assessing applications, local planning authorities should have regard to the recommendations from the design review panel.

The Government attaches great importance to Green Belts. The fundamental aim of Green Belt policy is to prevent urban sprawl by keeping land permanently open; the essential characteristics of Green Belts are their openness and their permanence.

In response John Cridland, CBI director-general, said: ‘Future generations will be thankful that the Government has held its nerve on this. Having a presumption in favour of sustainable development gets the balance right between supporting jobs and growth, and serving the interests of the environment and society.

Let’s be clear, this is not an invitation to concrete over Britain

‘The new framework hands the responsibility back to local communities to decide where new homes, businesses and infrastructure to support them should be built. So the onus is on local authorities to work with people and businesses in their area to develop suitable plans as quickly as possible.

‘Let’s be clear, this is not an invitation to concrete over Britain, as some would have us believe. For too long, our planning regime acted as a drag on growth, and this framework lets people decide the future for themselves.”

Stewart Baseley, executive chairman of the Home Builders Federationorum added: ‘Local Authorities now have control over their housing plans.  The onus is now on them to deliver and address the country’s acute housing crisis. Government will also have to monitor the process closely to ensure Local Authorities are meeting their obligations as a radically different system beds in.

‘The new policy strikes a sensible balance between economic growth, social need and environmental considerations when assessing proposed development. It maintains the existing protections for the countryside and there is no reason why the vast majority of housing development will continue on brown field sites – when those sites are available and viable.’





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