In a ministerial statement this afternoon, Planning minister Greg Clark said a "decade of regional spatial strategies, top-down targets and national planning policy guidance that has swelled beyond reason to over 1,000 pages across 44 documents, has led to communities seeing planning as something done to them, rather than by them.
"And as the planning system has become more complex, it has ground ever slower. In 2004 Parliament required every council to have a plan - eight years on, only around a half have been able to adopt one".
Clark said the final draft of the NPPF:
- Makes it clear that the local plan is, as the communities and local government select committee put it, the keystone of the planning edifice
- Is crystal clear that sustainable development embraces social and environmental as well as economic objectives and does so in a balanced way;
- Refers explicitly to the five principles of the UK Sustainable Development Strategy;
- Goes further than ever before and is clear that councils should look for net improvements on all dimensions of sustainability;
- Makes explicit that the presumption in favour of sustainable development works through, not against, local plans;
- Makes it clear that relevant policies - such as those protecting the Green Belt, Sites of Special Scientific Interest, National Parks and other areas - cannot be overridden by the presumption;
- Recognises the intrinsic value and beauty of the countryside (whether specifically designated or not);
- Makes explicit what was always implicit: that councils' policies must encourage brownfield sites to be brought back into use;
- Underlines the importance of town centres, while recognising that businesses in rural communities should be free to expand;
- Takes a localist approach to creating a buffer of housing supply over and above 5 years, and in the use of windfall sites;
- Allows councils to protect back gardens - those precious urban oases
- Ensures that playing fields continue to benefit from that same protection that they do currently.
A letter sent by the CLG chief planner to local authorities, issued alongside the document, confirmed the NPPF comes into effect today. It confirms that implementation arrangements are set out in Annex 1 to the Framework.
In addition a technical guidance document has been issued alongside the NPPF. This document provides additional guidance to local planning authorities to ensure the effective implementation of the planning policy set out in the NPPF on development in areas at risk of flooding and in relation to mineral extraction. This guidance retains key elements of Planning Policy Statement 25 and of the existing Minerals Policy Statements and Minerals Planning Guidance Notes which are considered necessary and helpful in relation to these policy areas. The retention of this guidance is an interim measure pending a wider review of guidance to support planning policy.
The NPPF can be downloaded here.
Technical Guidance to the NPPF can be downloaded here.
The letter to Chief Planning Officers can be downloaded here.