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‘Sensible’ changes to planning

11 April 2012

The British Property Federation (BPF) has welcomed the recent changes made to the National Planning Policy Framework.

The BPF believes amendments to the Framework, such as the inclusion of a requirement for developers to build on brownfield sites ahead of greenfield sites, a more robust town centre first policy including office development, and a revised definition of sustainable development – all changes the BPF has been championing – will go a long way to easing the concerns of the NPPF’s critics.

The BPF believes the debate must now move on to how the NPPF will work in practice given around half of local authorities still have not produced a Local Plan, and the complete lack of any underpinning guidance to support the document.

Liz Peace, chief executive of the British Property Federation, said: “We believe the NPPF is now a more moderate and sensible document. The changes to the framework do not, however, alter its overall objective of supporting well-planned sustainable growth within a streamlined, plan-led system. Government has made some sensible concessions while still ensuring that local authorities must provide homes and jobs where they are needed.

“What’s needed now is clarity over how the NPPF is going to be implemented,” continued Peace. “Urgent questions remain over how local authorities should determine how many homes and jobs they need, and what the guidance that underpins the NPPF should be. And those local authorities that have failed in the last eight years to draw up an up to date Local Plan must now get on and create one. Hopefully the transitional arrangements announced today will be the spur they need.”

Key developments include:

? Transitional arrangements – Local authorities with a post-2004 local plan that is broadly in line with the NPPF will be able to use those policies for 12 months. For local authorities with no up to date plan, the NPPF will come in to force immediately

? The definition of sustainable development – this has been strengthened to include the Bruntland definition

? Brownfield first policy – this has been strengthened to prioritise more clearly the use of previously developed land

? Five-year land supply – Local Authorities with a good track record at allocating land for housing must earmark a five-year supply plus 5%. Others must earmark a five-year supply plus 20%

? The intrinsic value of countryside – this has been included in the NPPF following its removal from the first draft

? Town centre first policy – this has been strengthened and office development re-included, with an exemption for rural businesses.

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