Monday 14 April 2014

MPs to study planning policy framework

Following on from last week's posting, MPs are now going to study the planning policy framework.

Parliament has launched an inquiry into the operation of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF).

This initiative has come from the all-party Commons Communities and Local Government Committee. MPs will scrutinise the operation of the NPPF during its first two years, concentrating on the NPPF’s impact on planning for housing, town centres and energy infrastructure.

The announcement came as the committee published a report it commissioned from Cambridge University’s Centre for Housing and Planning Research to identify pinch points in the planning system affecting housing. It focused on analysing the published data and interviews with planners and with large and small house builders.

The findings included the following: large house builders generally thought the NPPF had been a positive change. They are, however, opposed to further changes in policy, calling instead for a focus on good practice.

An adopted local plan and a five-year land supply were essential for effective planning. The lack of a local plan made a local planning authority vulnerable to appeals. In some authorities there was an expectation that applications would go to appeal because elected members did not want to make planning decisions or because local opposition to new development was strong.

Many factors could contribute to delays. This included consultation with stakeholders, the attitude of some councillors, and a lack of resources and skills. Environmental matters in particular could be a considerable source of delay.

The planning process was effective when there was a positive culture within local authorities and a pro-development attitude from chief executives, planning officers and elected members.

The researchers also concluded that planning performance targets did not tell the whole story and could be misleading.

It could be interesting to see where this leads.

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