The Government published new planning regulations known as the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) in July. The 52 page draft policy is designed to make planning applications less complicated and more open to the public. It will replace the current systems in place, Planning Policy Statements (PPS) and Planning Policy Guidance Notes (PPG) which are roughly 1000 pages long and 20 years out of date.
The new policy has three main objectives:
1. Simplify the Government’s requirements for the planning system, giving commercial property developers greater assurance, reduce costs and obstacles for businesses, and promote sustainable development
2. Local communities and neighbours to be more involved in plans to shape their surroundings
3. Being more available and accessible, so planning applications are considered on their merits
The new policy has been welcomed by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) who felt the existing system failed to deliver infrastructure and investment. Rics feel the new system would overturn these issues by aiding growth, which could result in more planning applications for commercial developments being made and approved.
Rt Hon Greg Clark MP, Minister for Planning stated, “People have been put off from getting involved because planning policy itself has become so elaborate and forbidding – the preserve of specialists, rather than people in communities.” He went onto say that the new policy would, “Allow people and communities back into planning.”
With the planning system being made more straightforward, will more local people start to put in planning applications or will we just see more huge supermarkets and big branded shopping stores popping up around the country? Rics believes neighbourhoods will get involved as the new policy is, “More workable for the local community and more responsive to public need.”
However, the government is pushing for sustainable commercial developments, and the NPPF outlined the principles as:
The draft policy stated that planning applications that met the above criteria would be in favour of being approved by local authorities and “Should be seen as a golden thread running through both plan making and decision taking.” But will local people know how to be sustainable and build a commercial property that will help the environment, the economy and people of the future?
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