First of all, the draft proudly states the NPPF will be reduced (shortened), as if this is a good thing - quite short sighted as the Government will only have to provide further clarification in the planning practice guidance and there is likely to be more court cases needed to interpret and clarify terms.
The Planning Practice Guidance has also already been revised and a draft is published alongside the draft NPPF.
Key points proposed by the draft NPPF areas follows:
Presumption in favour of sustainable development - Objectively Assessed Needs (OAN) to be accommodated, unless there are strong reasons not to.
Strengthen the list where the ‘presumption’ does not apply e.g. ancient woodland.
Greater clarification to the ‘presumption’ shall now refer to …policies most important to determining the application are out of date….
Paragraph 14 to provide greater certainty for neighbourhood plans.
Core Planning Policies to be deleted.
Plan-making - to define strategic priorities, spatial development strategies to allocate sites if there is unanimous agreement, plans to be reviewed every 5 years, amendment to the test for a ‘sound’ plan and the evidence required to support this,
A new approach to viability in plan making to ensure plans are clearer on what will be expected.
Amendments to the tests of ‘soundness’.
Weight to be given to policies in emerging plans is clarified along with the approach to ‘prematurity’.
Decision-making where proposed developments accord with the Development Plan there is no need for a viability assessment to accompany an application.
Viability assessments - a revised approach.
All viability assessments to be made publicly available.
Viability and claw-back is proposed applicants are to demonstrate how any increase in value shall be apportioned to the local authority.
Homes - it introduces a new standard method for the calculation of local housing needs.
Now highlights the need to address housing requirements of different groups, including students and travellers.
Affordable housing - at least 10% of houses on major sites shall be made available for affordable home ownership.
LPA’s are to provide a housing requirement figure for designated housing areas.
Greater use of small sites - LPA’s are to ensure that at least 20% of their sites in allocation plans are allocated for housing.
From 2020 the presumption in favour of sustainable development will apply where delivery is below 75%, this may be linked to a payment system.
5-year housing land supply position should be capable of being agreed for a 1 year period.
LPAs to consider applying a planning condition to bring forward sites in 2 years (opposed to the current 3 year standard).
A proposal to allow exception sites for first time buyers.
The draft makes it more explicit the importance of supporting business growth.
Rural areas - proposes to allow new community facilities and housing outside of settlements.
Retail - the sequential approach has been amended so that out of centre sites should be considered only if suitable town centre or edge of centre sites are unavailable (they do not have to be immediately available).
Office developments outside town centres do not have to be accompanied by an impact assessment.
Positive planning for estate regeneration.
Transport is to be considered more holistically as part of the planning process.
The importance of a national network of aviation facilities is highlighted.
Designs are to prioritise the safety of pedestrians and cyclists.
Make more effective use of land and buildings.
Daylight and sunlight issues are brought into the spotlight.
Enhanced value given to the use of sustainable brownfield sites within settlements.
Making more effective use of empty spaces above shops.
Making it easier to convert retail and employment land to residential.
Minimum densities to be proposed around transport hubs.
Design should not be used as a reason to object to a planning application.
Green Belt protections to remain.
Green Belt exceptional circumstances criteria proposed.
Cemeteries should not be regarded as inappropriate development.
Brownfield land in the Green Belt can be used for affordable housing where there is a local need and they are for starter homes.
Material changes of use in the green belt that preserve the openness are not inappropriate development in the Green Belt.
SUDs required on major developments.
Noise and air quality issues shall continue to be mitigated against and ecological habitats will continue to be protected.
Heritage – clarifies that weight will be given to harm arising on a heritage asset whether it is less than substantial or substantial.
The draft is welcomed earlier than expected. The planning and property profession will no doubt be sceptical over many of the changes, the emphasis clearly on building more homes, it is disappointing there is a lack of the same commercial direction from the changes and what appers to be a lack of cionnection with the recent;y published Indutrial Strategy with the protections remaining across the Green Belt are as expected but the added acceptance of the opportunity brownfield land in the Green Belt can contribute is welcomed, how this will be any different to the policy in place now remians to be seen.
The draft is out for consultation until 10th May 2018 with the RTPI leading various round table discussions to engage the property community in the proposed changes and seek feedback through out the consultation period.Provisional dates can be found at www.rtpi.org.uk with the North West session to be held on 18th April. With the published version by the summer.