Ian Shires

Liberal Democrat Councillor for Willenhall North Ward, Liberal Democrat Group Leader, Walsall MBC Learn more

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National Planning Policy Framework

by Ian Shires on 29 March, 2012

The National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) was published on Tuesday (27th Mar 12), with significant amendments negotiated by the Liberal Democrats in Government since the Draft NPPF was released for consultation last July.

So, What’s Changed?

The controversial default ‘yes to development’ is no longer part of the Framework. This addresses a number of concerns that the NPPF as drafted may have led to a rash of quickly implemented, unsustainable development.

The section on protecting the High Street has been strengthened, with a clear sequential test for retail development. This follows the work of Mary Portas, and her review on the future of High Street retail. This will be good news for Walsall and district centres such as Willenhall where there are a number of empty shops brought about by the heavily centralist, bureaucratic mass of planning guidance imposed during 13 years of Labour in power at Westminster.

The “Brownfield First” principle has been clearly set out, as has the principle of “land of least environmental value”. These are crucial concessions to Liberal Democrat concerns about the potential effect of the Draft NPPF on future Greenfield development.

The NPPF as published clarifies the balance that planners must strike between economic growth, environmental protection, and social concerns.

“Core Principles” have been explicitly set out, including (at Lib Dem insistence) an emphasis on the sustainability of potential economic development.

There will be a twelve-month ‘transition period’ for local authorities who do not yet possess an up-to-date Local Plan to have one put into place. The Planning Inspectorate will also offer increased support to those authorities updating their Local Plans to fit with the NPPF.

The NPPF replaces more than 1,000 pages of Planning policy, with 50 pages. With the Planning changes contained within the Localism Act, central control over the Planning process is being relaxed and local communities, at authority- and neighbourhood-level, are being given more say over developments in their areas. Liberal Democrats want to see development that is sustainable, productive, and responsive to local wishes – our contribution to the NPPF is to fight for a Planning Framework that reflects those key Lib Dem values.

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