16 APR 2018
The National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) 2012 replaced around a thousand pages of planning policy which had accumulated over the years. It was intended to encourage an enabling role for planning, rather than what was characterised as a controlling role.
RICS professionals have been engaged in practice with all aspects of the NPPF and the Planning Practice Guidance (PPG) which followed it. The NPPF and PPG are now being reviewed by government and the closing date for consultation submissions is 10 May 2018.
A key focus of the NPPF 2012 was to mediate between the need to develop sustainably on one hand and to retain the business case for development on the other. RICS professionals have been centrally involved in viability testing at an area wide level in plan making and at a site specific level in decision taking on planning applications.
An important change in emphasis being pursued in the new draft NPPF is the desire to deal with most of the viability issues at plan making stage, through the area-wide viability assessment. It states that where proposals accord with all relevant policies in an up-to-date development plan, no viability assessment should be required. The expectation is that this will significantly reduce the number of site specific viability appraisals.
A standard method for the calculation of housing need is proposed although details have not yet been published.
The draft revised NPPF also maintains strong protection for the green-belt and retains a high threshold of evidence before green belt land may justifiably be released. Where green-belt is released, first consideration should be given to land which has been previously-developed or which is well-served by public transport.
Government also published a consultation on Developer Contributions which includes a suggestion to set developer contributions nationally and make them non-negotiable.
RICS has met with Sir Oliver Letwin and his team and continues to engage with his review.