ACRE is pleased that government has recognised many of the issues raised by ACRE and other rural stakeholders. Although the NPPF retains its main thrust as a pro-growth planning framework, this is now tempered to avoid the more extreme outcomes that many commentators anticipated.
Whilst ACRE still has queries about how the NPPF will take effect on the ground, particularly in relation to neighbourhood plans, local plans and other plan documents, we belive that, compared to the original draft NPPF, this is a far more reasonable starting point from which to encourage communities to engage with the planning system.
The publication of the draft NPPF during the summer created significant concerns as to how the ambiguity it created would affect local plans and planning decisions. Since then, the CLG Select Committee has examined the issues and has published its recommendations. ACRE's Briefing on the committee's report concludes that, should the recommendations be adopted by government, the final NPPF will re-establish a plan-led system in which local planning authorities, developersand communities should all have confidence.
The Government is committed to simplifying planning guidance which governs where and how development can take place. The new National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) will replace all current national guidance and the draft is now out for consultation.
The draft NPPF has generated significant commentary from public, private and non-governmental bodies. This stems from its role in determining the balance between:
- driving forward housing and economic development
- protecting the environment and valued landscape
- funding the infrastructure that is essential to make development sustainable
In its consideration of sustainable development, government has focused the NPPF on a strategy for sustainable growth. This gives proportionately more weight to allowing development where no strong objections exist on the grounds of environmental protection or other valid reasons which have been justified in an ‘up to date’ local plan.
The Government claims Neighbourhood Plans will become the new building blocks of the planning system where communities have the power to grant planning permission if a local majority are in favour’. The process for developing Neighbourhood Plans will rely on active community involvement. Whereas the Localism Act sets out the framework for neighbourhood planning, the details are still in development within the Department for Communities and Local Government. This briefing covers relevant amendments to the Localism Act as it passed through Parliament, and current thinking on how Neighbourhood Plans might fit into the wider statutory planning system.
This briefing covers a number of proposals relevant to rural community action in the Localism Bill, published in December 2010. The Bill includes a wide range of measures that aim to give more power to local authorities but also more power to individual communities to determine how development takes place in their locality. Progress with the Bill can be followed at http://services.parliament.uk/bills/2010-11/localism.html The Localism Act was granted Royal Assent on November 16th 2011. It retains most of the proposed measures of the Localism Bill.
The Localism Act's proposals on neighbourhood planning will provide a statutory framework through which Community Led Plans can achieve their aspirations. However, in trying to devise legislation that helps communities to do this, the Localism Act has struggled to provide simple and affordable mechanisms for delivery. this commentary discusses some of the issues.
The Right to Buy, Assets of Community Value proposal simply allows a community, group or individual to ‘list’ a site which they consider to be delivering a valuable service or public facility. The government consultion on the right to buy proposals ended on 3rd May 2011. The ACRE response is on our consultations page.
ACRE Briefing: Community Right to Build Orders
Under the Localism Act provisions, a Community Right to Build Order allows a local community group to bring forward a small development for one or more purposes, including new homes, businesses and community facilities, but it must be small scale in comparison to the size of settlement.