The National Planning Policy Framework, or NPPF for short, was published this week.
As expected, the presumption in favour of sustainable development ? one of the most controversial issues arising out of the draft ? has been retained from the draft and included.
For plan-making, the presumption means;
- LPAs seeking out opportunities to meet the development needs of their area; and
- Flexibly meeting objectively assessed needs, unless the adverse impact would significantly and demonstrably outweigh the benefits, or where policies in the Framework (such as those relating to the Green Belt, for example) indicate that development should be resisted.
For decision-making, the presumption means;
- Promptly approving proposals that are consistent with development plans; and
- Granting permission where plans are out of date or silent, save where the adverse impact would significantly and demonstrably outweigh the benefits, or where policies in the Framework indicate that development should be restricted.
Importantly, the suggestion in the draft that the default answer to proposals for planning permission should be "yes" has been removed.
Despite calls for one from respondents in the consultation process, there is no specific definition of sustainable development. Instead it is the Framework's policies taken as a whole that "constitute the Government's view of what sustainable development means in practice" reflecting three dimensions: economic, social and environmental. Nonetheless the thrust of the well known Brundtland definition is very much in evidence throughout the document.
As expected and following on from the presumption in favour of sustainable development, meeting the challenge of climate change, flooding and coastal change features in the documentation. The NPPF advises LPAs to adopt proactive strategies to mitigate and adapt to climate change and importantly recognise the responsibility on all communities to contribute to energy generation from renewable and low carbon sources.
Whilst the NPPF came into force on the 27 March 2012, there are important transitional arrangements and for 12 months from the date of publication full weight may be given to development plan policies adopted since 2004, even where there is a limited degree of conflict with the Framework.
For more advice on the implications of the NPPF on renewable energy or waste management development please contact Nick Leaney on 01984 624989.