New Planning Framework
17 Aug 2021
Fresh guidance has been issued to planners across England to look more favourably on new developments that are well designed, encourage healthier living and are more sustainable.
This announcement from Westminster includes a complete rewrite of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) – the guide book used as a reference for Local Planning Authorities and community groups as a standard benchmark for ‘what good looks like’ in the world of planning approval.
Councils use the NPPF as a starting point when producing their own Local Plan policies, which in turn controls the type and style of building projects that are given the green light in each region.
Also, a new National Model Design Guide (NMDG) has been unveiled. This illustrative booklet gives clearer examples of a good looking development, and as well as tackling the appearance, size and location of buildings. The NMDG also encourages designers to promote walking and cycling, to use sustainable solutions for energy, water use and drainage, and to include ‘tree lined streets’.
Both documents have been written to give councils a foundation layer to build on. The grass-roots of planning approval are in the guides, and local design preferences can then be built on top by each council.
So what does this mean for new developments?
As local planning authorities update their Local Plans and produce their own design guides, developers will start to see these new requirements filtering through into their planning conditions. There may be more emphasis placed on specific areas of the design of an estate, or new conditions focused on cycle paths and tree planting.
But it will take years for these new national recommendations to filter down onto real live building projects.
And these adjustments are only the appetiser for what’s to come…
In the past year, the Government has been consulting on bringing in radical reforms to the planning system. They want to move to a new digital process which is easier for developers to understand, easier for the public to get involved in, and quicker to complete.
Planning For The Future is also considering the introduction of a nationalised set of planning conditions which all councils across England would adopt as standard, as well as keeping the freedom to set additional requirements based on local hot topics.
What this means in reality, nobody knows yet. It could spell the end for conditions like Energy Statements. Or it could enforce them at a national level across all councils. We don’t yet have the answers – The Government is yet to respond following a public consultation.
With once-in-a-generation changes on the way in both the world of planning and building regulations, it’s important to stay up to date with the changes.
Energist’s Technical Team is staying on the pulse, and we’ll release further articles as changes to the planning process are announced.