The Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) launched the Planning Practice Guidance web-based resource on 6th March 2014 and for the first time, Planning Practice Guidance is now available entirely online in one place.
The Guidance seeks to provide guidance and clarity on the interpretation and application of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) and can be accessed via http://planningguidance.planningportal.gov.uk/blog/guidance. The Guidance is split into 41 topics and incorporates a search facility and links to the relevant NPPF paragraphs.
As highlighted by Mr Pickles in his Ministerial Statement, the publication of the Guidance seeks to further confirm the Coalition's commitment to reforming the planning system and making it clearer, simpler and easier for people to use with reference to the principles of Localism and neighbourhood planning. DCLG will be actively managing the planning practice guidance, and will make necessary updates including regular reviews to the guidance, to ensure it is relevant, usable and up-to-date and users are able to sign up to receive email alerts on changes to the Guidance.
Particular points of note in terms of the published NPPG include:
- Guidance on the undertaking of housing assessments and methodologies including:
Allowing windfalls to be counted in housing numbers across the whole of the Local Plan period.
Allowing past over-supply of housing to be taken into account when assessing housing need.
Confirming that five year housing land supply assessments are not automatically outdated by new household projections.
Allowing for student housing, housing for older people and the re-use of empty homes to be included in assessments of housing need.
Allowing plan makers to utilise differing methods of assessment for housing supply calculations, as long as the reasons for doing so are justified.
- Guidance on Plan Making:
Providing clarification as to when Councils can consider refusing permission on the grounds of prematurity in relation to draft plans.
Making it clear that Local Plans can still pass the test of soundness where authorities have not been able to identify land for growth in years 11 – 15 of their Local Plan.
Further encouraging joint working between local authorities but clarifying that the duty to co-operate is not a duty to accept.
- Seeking to ensure that infrastructure is provided to support new development and allowing for infrastructure constraints to be considered when assessing the suitability of sites.
- Issuing robust guidance on flood risk. Councils need to consider the strict tests set out in national policy and where these are not met, new development on sites at risk of flooding should not be allowed.
- Reaffirming Green Belt protection and identifying that unmet housing need is likely to outweigh harm to the Green Belt sufficient to constitute very special circumstances justifying inappropriate development.
- Reiterating the importance of bringing brownfield land back into use and stating that authorities do not have to allocate sites on the basis of providing the maximum possible return for landowners and developers.
- Incorporating and providing clarity on guidance on renewable energy.
- Allowing Councils to consider the delivery record (or lack of) of developers or landowners, including a history of unimplemented permissions.
If you would like to discuss how this new Guidance will affect your business activities, please get in touch.