The Revised National Planning Policy Framework: More of the Same?

The Revised National Planning Policy Framework: More of the Same?

It doesn’t happen very often, but for those involved in the planning world, this week marks the publication of the revised National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF).

Since 2012, the NPPF has formed the Country’s national policy which is used to guide strategic planning and assess planning applications. The revised document promises big – the draft document was clear that the housing crises could no longer be ignored:

“…a comprehensive approach for planners, developers and councils to build more homes, more quickly and in the places where people want to live.”

Secretary of State Rt Hon James Brokenshire MP

We are however disappointed to see the watering down of the small sites requirement, which was expected to require at least 20% of a Local Planning Authority’s housing requirement to be identified on smaller sites of 0.5 hectare or less. These sites being brought to the front line in strategic plans and site allocations, would be important, like larger sites, in providing for local housing needs. There are many more smaller sites, they can be constructed quickly and usually require less infrastructure.  

What has transpired with the publication of the revised NPPF, is the size has increased to 1 hectare and the requirement for there to be 20%, has dropped to 10%. It looks like the owners of small sites will need to continue to pursue the planning application route to realise the potential of land and buildings. More windfall and gone is the opportunity for smaller parcels of land to be potentially allocated for development, in a way that proposal maps have not previously considered.

We can see the relief on the face of some cash strapped Council’s, and understandably so, but why, if we are serious about tackling the housing crises, are we not properly resourcing local planning authorities?

Six years have passed since the rationalised national policy emerged and as with many things, time will tell as to whether it delivers on its promises. We sense a missed opportunity, although the NPPF has much to offer such as the housing delivery test and its emphasis on design.

Avoiding Costs at Appeal

There is only one thing worse than losing a planning appeal, and that is having costs awarded against you. The outcome of an appeal doesn’t automatically result in a costs award, it requires a party to have behaved unreasonably and for the other party to have incurred wasted expense.

In one recent case in Devon, a costs award was made against the Appellant to pay the Council’s costs, which is quite a rare occurrence. After reading on, it transpired that the Appellant had failed to supply the Council with information requested part way through considering a planning application. This can be frustrating yes, but in this instance, it appeared a straightforward request that should have been picked up in validation. Fast forward, and the application was refused, an appeal dismissed, and the Appellant was on the wrong side of a costs award.

“I therefore find that unreasonable behaviour resulting in unnecessary and wasted expense in the appeal process has been demonstrated and that a full award of costs is justified.”

It is important to have the right professional planning advice, during an application and at appeal. If you have a costs application made against you, it is vital to put forward a robust defence to prevent appeal becoming even more costly.

Inspire Planning Solutions have a 100% perfect record of success on costs application. We have won costs against both a London Borough and a West Midlands Council in just the last few weeks alone, as they were both found to have behaved unreasonably.

If you have had a bad planning experience with a Council, please contact us for advice and guidance on your possible next steps.