planning law news – August 2011
Government unveils draft National Planning Policy Framework
On 25 July the Government published its draft NPPF for
consultation. At 58 pages long it represents a significantly less
voluminous suite of national planning policy than the current
documentation it is designed to replace, which runs to more than
1,000 pages. It seeks to set out the Government's key economic,
social and environmental objectives for England and the planning
policies to deliver them.
The Government remains committed to:
- protect the green belt, national parks, areas of outstanding
natural beauty and sites of special scientific interest
- facilitate a new generation of renewable energy projects
- protect the nation's historic environment and cultural
- protect peat bogs
- tackle noise and light pollution
- allow communities to earmark important local green spaces for
- promote growth for the telecommunications industry
- secure an adequate and steady supply of indigenous minerals
needed to support sustainable growth
- ensure that councils work closely with each other, communities
- help deliver homes, jobs and infrastructure needed for a
growing population while protecting the environment.
The presumption in favour of sustainable development is central
to the policy and is designed to send a strong signal to all those
involved in the planning process about the need to plan positively
for appropriate new development, so that both plan-making and
development management are proactive and driven by a search for
opportunities to deliver sustainable development, rather than
The counter-balance to the presumption is the shift to local
community planning. These two elements are the new concepts in
balancing private and public interests, although the RTPI believes
their relationship remains unclear.
The draft NPPF has been criticised by a number of bodies. The
RTPI has expressed concern that it would undermine local plans and
the CPRE consider that "major problems remain". The importance of
the document has been underlined by the House Builders Federation
which called it the "most important planning document since the
Town and Country Planning Act of 1947".
The consultation closes on 17 October 2011 and the Government
aims to adopt the NPPF in April 2012.
local planning regulations: consultation
As a consequence of the proposed reforms in the Localism Bill
the Government is consulting on amendments to the regulations
concerning the preparation of development plans by local planning
authorities. Views are sought on whether the revised regulations
are fit for purpose, and in particular:
- consolidation of the regulations into one document
- a list of bodies to whom the new duty to co-operate
- simplifying the definition of Development Plan Documents (DPDs)
to omit terms such as Local Development Framework, Core Strategy
and Area Action Plan to reduce confusion among the public and
- allowing councils to decide what they want to include in their
- allowing councils to review policy more quickly
- removing the regulations on Local Development Schemes, so
councils need only report information of greatest relevance to
- maintaining the requirement to keep the public informed about
the status of planning documents.
The consultation closes on 7 October 2011.
Summer has seen the Government publish a white paper entitled
"The Natural Choice: Securing the Value of Nature" which includes a
response to the Lawton Review. Findings of the recent UK National
Ecosystem Assessment were also fed into the white paper.
The Lawton Review was commissioned in September 2010 and set out
24 recommendations. It considered that England's designated and
non-designated wildlife sites represented an incoherent ecological
network and concluded existing sites were too small and
The white paper sets out the Government's aims for the next 50
years. Principal aims include valuing the economic/social benefit
of the natural environment, putting natural capital at the centre
of economics and enabling greater local action to create a green
economy. To achieve these aims the Government is specifically
- new designations of Nature Improvement Areas (NIA) to join
fragmented ecological sites and local green spaces allowing
communities to protect areas that are important to them
- to extend the use of "biodiversity offsetting"
- to reform the planning system through the National Planning
Policy Framework (NPPF)
- to establishment Local Nature Partnerships (LNP) to complement
Local Enterprise Partnerships at a strategic level
- to publish a new Biodiversity Strategy for England
- to create an independent body called the Natural Capital
- to require annual statements of "Natural Capital" in the UK's
- to publish a road map for a green economy.
Some of the proposed changes may in fact be imminent. The
proposed local green spaces designation is to be introduced by
April 2012. The Government wish to give it the same level of
protection as green belt land and it is seen as a more flexible
mechanism balancing the rigidity of town and village green
On 14 July 2011 DEFRA published a consultation on a draft
National Policy Statement (NPS) for major new infrastructure for
hazardous waste. The purpose is to ensure that more hazardous waste
is sent for recycling and recovery than is at present.
New facilities will aid the implementation of the new waste
hierarchy, recently introduced as a result of the Revised Waste
Framework Directive, which places greater emphasis on ensuring that
waste is dealt with in the priority order of; prevention, preparing
for re-use, recycling, other recovery (for example, energy
recovery) and finally disposal. As part of that strategy a more
streamlined planning system for obtaining planning consent will, it
is thought, provide a greater degree of certainty to potential
developers and allow nationally significant infrastructure to come
forward more quickly.
The consultation closes on 20 October 2011.
energy planning reforms approved by MPs
MPs have voted to approve the final set of six national policy
statements (NPSs) for energy infrastructure that are intended to
speed up the planning process for major energy projects. Progress of the energy NPSs
was reported in our July bulletin.
new London Plan
On 22 July 2011 the Mayor of London published the new London
Plan, designed to provide an economic, environmental, transport and
social framework for London's growth to 2031. It fully replaces the
London Plan (consolidated with alterations since 2004) and is now
the principal document with which the local plans of London
Boroughs need to be in conformity.
View the link to download the new