I welcome the government’s efforts to tighten definitions and processes in the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF), such as the presumption in favour of sustainable development, and am pleased to see a stronger emphasis on design, digital technology and renewed recognition of the role of planning.
However, it is suspicious that this announcement was made on the day Parliament retires for its summer recess, stifling debate and discussion. In truth I can see minimal change following consultation on the draft NPPF in March this year. There is a good deal of tinkering with the planning terminology but major changes, like redefining the greenbelt to update its appropriateness for building, are missing and the focus is really all about housing rather than looking at commercial floor space.
It is encouraging to see moves toward greater transparency in the planning system and measures that try to resolve the challenges in negotiating the number of affordable homes through the viability process.
However, the new proposals won’t please councils who already say they do not have the powers they need to ensure homes with planning permission are built quickly, with the necessary infrastructure, in their local communities. Bottom line, will it make it any easier to deliver 300,000 new homes per year up to 2020? I doubt it.