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.

Plans approved for new entertainment facility in Leeds

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Inspire Planning Solutions expertise has helped secure permission for a Leeds Entertainment Centre.

We were approached by the Project Architect during the course of the planning application after the Council requested a Sequential Test Assessment to be undertaken for the 16,000 square feet former furniture showroom.  As the intended use – like other leisure facilities such as gyms are identified as a ‘main town centre uses’ by the National Planning Policy Framework, the out of centre location of the site needed to be justified.

Given our experience on leisure developments, we undertook an extensive search of properties and were able to demonstrate that none were available, suitable or viable. The Council agreed that there were no sequentially preferable sites, paving the way for the application to be approved!

Now all that remains is for use to try out the new adventure facilities, which include different fictional sets with various challenges. Let’s hope escaping from locked rooms is as easy for us as gaining planning permission!

Inspire Planning Solutions Ltd works across the Country in providing technical reports to address planning policy requirements. If you are looking to develop a site or have been requested to provide the Council with further information, please get in touch. The timely provision of information can  avoid delay and expense and avoid the need for an appeal.