Update on changes to national and local planning
May 2012

At the end of March the Planning Minister, Greg Clark, revealed what made it into the final cut of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF).  From press coverage at the time and the leading lights of the protest movement against the original concepts it would be fair to say there have been some welcome improvements which showed that the Government had paid attention to many of the concerns raised.

The National Trust produced a very useful summary which is quoted below:

“Overall, we believe the planning framework has a much better tone and balance. The most significant changes for us are:

Confirmation of the role of local plans as the fundamental building block of the planning system;

A clearer definition of what the Government means by sustainable development;

References to the importance of the brownfield first approach to promoting development on previously developed land before building on green field sites;

Better balance in the language of the document, in particular dropping phrases like the default 'yes' to development where there is no local plan;

Reference to the 'intrinsic character and beauty of the countryside';

Details of a transition phase for the next 12 months, to get local plans up to date with the new framework.”

So things have certainly improved; both in terms of protection of green field sites and important definitions, from what was generally agreed to be a sketchy and unbalanced approach.  However the way this will all work in practice will take some time to come to fruition and may well still involve the use of judicial precedent to sort out once and for all how the sustainable development concept works at a practical level.  Commentators, and groups like NT, will keep a close eye on how local plans are developed and the way in which the Planning Framework is implemented.

The final NPPF document is available for free from the Government website as a PDF file, though it is about 60 pages long it is quite an interesting read.  Look under documents or publications on the website www.communities.gov.uk

HCF will continue to monitor planning issues and consents in Hanwell and discuss them at the monthly meetings.

Dave Newsome
May 2012