Monthly Archives: March 2012

What is the new NPPF?

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Today the Government announced the long-awaited changes to the National Planning Policy Framework. But, will the new policy really bring big changes to the planning system inEngland and Wales? 

Rural Solutions Director Duncan Hartley doesn’t believe it will lead to a radical revision of existing planning policy or the destruction of Britain’s green belt.

He is keen to point out that planning decisions will still be made on a local level based on existing Local Plans. The Local Plan is the blueprint planning policy prepared by local authorities and will continue to be used as a basis for local development decisions.

Rural Solutions believes the NPPF will create new opportunities to enable sensitive and effective land use and development in rural areas for economic, social and environmental gain.

What is the new NPPF?

The Government says the aim of the NPPF is to make the planning system more simple, responsive and pro-growth.

Thousands of pages of national planning guidance, currently spread across numerous documents, will be replaced with a single framework totaling just over fifty pages. Rural Solutions has closely reviewed the document and is able to provide guidance to our clients.

We’ve outlined key points of the new framework below, if you wish to discuss how we can help you with your requirements, please contact our Head of Planning, Duncan Hartley on 0845 026 7914

Sustainable Development: the draft NPPF includes a ‘presumption in favour of sustainable development’. We believe that the ability to demonstrate sustainable development will be key to the success of many rural proposals.

Re-use and development of previously developed land in the Green Belt:The NPPF brings forward new exceptions for the construction of buildings in the green belt. The policy will bring forward new commercial and other opportunities for the extension, alteration or replacement of buildings and the partial or complete redevelopment of previously developed sites. The implementation of this new policy, founded on sound planning advice from Rural Solutions, will serve to enhance the appearance of green belt property and bring new business and growth to the rural economic scene.  

Rural Offices Developments:  Although current planning policy says that office development should be the subject of the ‘Town Centre First’ policy, the new framework does make exceptions for rural offices. This is a positive change with regard to rural office schemes and it is an ideal time for land owners to consider creating rural office space, even if their scheme has previously been refused.

Residential Developments: Most local authorities have an ‘Exception Site Policy’ which allows delivery of 100% affordable housing schemes outside rural restraint policies. These are rarely applied and the low prices that housing associations can pay make these developments unattractive to landowners. The NPPF proposes that councils should be able to accept an element of market value housing on exception sites to help facilitate the delivery of affordable housing projects. This change may encourage rural landowners to reconsider the disposal of land assets for residential purposes.

More housing land needed: The NPPF calls for Local Authorities to identify an additional 20% of land for housing (i.e. 120% of the land required to meet housing targets) to ensure that there is choice and competition and facilitate the delivery of more new homes. This means that landowners may wish to promote their land assets for allocation in statutory development plans. 

For further advice on how the National Planning Policy Framework will influence your development proposals or asset management strategy do not hesitate to contact our Head of Planning, Duncan Hartley on 0845 026 7914

New Planning Laws – Opening the Floodgates to Development?

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Duncan Hartley, Director at Rural Solutions Planning and a former Chief Planning Officer in the public sector has called for calm as the Government confirms changes  to theUK’s planning system.

Commenting on the announcement about changes to the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF), Mr Hartley said he didn’t believe it would lead to a radical revision of existing planning policy, or over-development of rural areas.

“The Communities and Local Government (CLG) select committee recognised the need to give priority to Local Plans in making planning decisions, and this has been reflected in today’s announcement,” he said. The Local Plan is the blueprint planning policy prepared by local authorities and used as a basis for local development decisions.

Although Mr Hartley recognised the concerns of the National Trust and Council for Protection of Rural England, he believes that the existence of Local Plans will ensure that the need for economic growth will be balanced with environmental and social considerations when planning decisions are made.

He added: “It would be worrying for a new national policy statement to be based solely on the need to achieve economic growth. However, the reality of local implementation, in line with firmly established Local Plans, will ensure this is not the case.

“The NPPF will bring forward new opportunities to enable effective land use in rural, and urban, areas for economic, social and environmental gain. It is critical that these opportunities are grasped by local rural communities, for example, to:

  • Significantly increase the supply of affordable housing;
  • Urgently address the need for attaining sustainable sources of energy; and
  • Release previously developed sites for new commercial and other uses. “

He added: “The immediate need is for local government to ensure it resources and delivers its plans. It is essential that they are adopted and kept up to date and in so doing the doom laden predictions for the destruction of our green and pleasant land will not become a reality.

“The NPPF is not an attack on the Local Plan process indeed it can be viewed as a ‘practice guide’ as it indicates how they should be produced and used positively to encourage appropriate local growth.”

For planning enquiries and advice please contact Rural Solutions Director of Planning Duncan Hartley on 0845 026 7914 or at

–         Ends   –

Notes to Editors:

For more news from Rural Solutions, visit

For PR enquiries, interview opportunities and a selection of images, call Corrie Staniforth 07557 870 601/ 01132842230 or or Sarah Gough at Kendra PR on 01904 234 752 or 07910 214474 or email

Rural Solutions, the nationwide development and planning specialists, advises businesses in the rural sector on diversification opportunities. They help clients to understand the wider economic, social and environmental benefits of diversification as well as delivering projects through planning, construction and marketing processes. Rural Solutions also identifies how existing diversified businesses can adapt to future changes. Their knowledge and network enables Rural Solutions to continually develop to give their team an unrivalled perspective of diversification opportunities.

 The Concept to Completion service has the benefit of proving a single point of accountability, working alongside clients to develop proposals into viable projects and ensure delivery.

Rural Solutions Ltd, Heritage House, Broughton Hall, Skipton, North Yorkshire, BD23 3AE t. 0845 3024766.

Heritage Works – VAT

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In last week’s budget, chancellor George Osborne announced that VAT will be added to heritage works from October 2012. HM revenue & Customs are holding consultations until May this year on proposals to scrap tax relief on approved alterations to listed buildings which will close anomalies in the UK’s VAT system. It is foreseen that this announcement may speed up heritage works, as any work going ahead in 12 to 18 months might be brought forward, we could then see a drop in activity once the proposals have been brought in.

Rural Solutions attending Ecobuild Event

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See Gail Culshaw, Rural Solutions’ Construction Manager at this year’s Ecobuild at ExCeL, London. Gail can be contacted at the event on Wednesday 21 March on 07752 331204. Ecobuild is the world’s largest event for sustainable design, construction and the built environment. Rural Solutions aims to be at the forefront of learning new technologies and design as they happen and to offer this advice to its clients. Further details on Ecobuild can be found at:

Another Planning Appeal Success for Rural Solutions

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Rural Solutions has again been successful in securing consent at the planning appeal stage, having been approached by an architect and developer who had seen the refusal of their planning application.

The appeal related to the construction of a new detached house on unused land on an existing housing estate. The application was refused on arboricultural grounds, however Rural Solutions working with a local arboriculturist, was able to cogently justify how the proposed development was in accordance with relevant national and local planning policy and could take place without adversely affecting protected trees.

This appeal success builds upon other recent appeal successes for Rural Solutions including the securing of consent for a contemporary extension of a Grade II* listed church within the North York Moors National Park and the extension of a converted shippon in the Arnside and Silverdale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

Rural Solutions undertakes nationwide research into rural business centre market

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Rural Solutions is working again with the University of Lancaster
to undertake nationwide research into the rural business centre market.

The university team will be working directly with rural business
centres to develop a comprehensive understanding of the companies and
individuals who choose to occupy rural business space. The team will be
researching the developing needs, preferences and demands of the 21st
century rural business centre occupier, to analyse trends in customer buying
behaviour as a result of the continuing depressed economy.

Rural Solutions is confident that this research will again be of
great value to our clients, both in the development of new rural business
centres and in aiding those already managing and marketing existing ones.

If you would like to learn more about the findings of our research
please contact Ralph Foljambe or Kate Paterson in our consultancy team on 0845
302 4767.