The new National Planning Policy Framework -
what does it mean?
publication of the National Planning Policy Framework on 27th
March followed months of indignation from the custodians of the English
Inevitably, a key concern for our clients when buying a house is the
potential threat from intrusive development. We always investigate
and advise our clients on relevant planning policies affecting the
property and its surroundings; we also research the planning history of
the property and its neighbours.
find the local authority has adapted its historic Local Plan to form a new
Local Development Framework (LDF) - in essence, replacing a policy that
was cast in stone with a continually evolving system.
National Framework is the coalition’s attempt to simplify planning rules
and, most significantly, delegate implementation to local authorities. The
Framework sets out a responsibility on every local authority to set out
its Local Plan, with clear rules as to how this is to be achieved.
With a transitional period of only one year in which to complete this, we
expect existing LDFs to be bent into shape and presented for approval.
Part of the
process places a responsibility on local planning authorities to quantify
housing need over the period of the plan (Strategic Housing Market
Assessment) and identify appropriate sites (Strategic Housing Land
Availability Assessment or SHLAA) Most authorities in our area have
already undertaken this process, although we anticipate that they will
face a deluge of new site submissions, seeking inclusion in the final
With a focus
on development of brownfield sites, simultaneously protecting the green
belt and conserving/enhancing natural and historic environments (including
National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty), the National
Framework leaves each local authority as master of its own destiny.
greatest unknown in the new regime is the ability of ‘Parishes and
neighbourhood forums’ to use ‘neighbourhood planning’ to ‘set planning
policies’, ‘to determine decisions on planning applications’ and ‘grant
planning permission through Neighbourhood Development Orders and Community
Right to Build Orders for specific development which complies with the
presumption is in favour of ‘sustainable development’ going ahead without
delay (although the Framework’s attempt to define sustainable development
leaves ample room for confusion) – with an assumption that an application
will be approved unless the Local or Neighbourhood Plans give sound
reasons why it should not.
this mean for our clients? Unfortunately, until the new Local Plans
are adopted and any Neighbourhood Plans are published (probably in twelve
months or so), we face an interim period of policy assumption,
rather than certainty – particularly for properties in, or on the edge of,
towns and villages (as well as in protected countryside where clients are
looking to extend or replace an existing house).