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

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