The National Planning Policy Framework is now available online.

Minister publishes new planning guidance online

In a written parliamentary statement, the parliamentary under-secretary of state for planning, Nick Boles, wrote:

‘I would particularly note that we are:

• Issuing robust guidance on flood risk, making it crystal clear that councils need to consider the strict tests set out in national policy, and where these are not met, new development on flood risk sites should not be allowed.

• Re-affirming Green Belt protection, noting that unmet housing need is unlikely to outweigh harm to the Green Belt and other harm to constitute very special circumstances justifying inappropriate development.

• Making clear that Local Plans can pass the test of soundness where authorities have not been able to identify land for growth in years 11-15 of their Local Plan, which often can be the most challenging part for a local authority.

• Making clear that windfalls can be counted over the whole Local Plan period.

• Explaining how student housing, housing for older people and the re-use of empty homes can be included when assessing housing need.

• Ensuring that infrastructure is provided to support new development, and noting how infrastructure constraints should be considered when assessing suitability of sites.

• Stressing the importance of bringing brownfield land into use and made clear that authorities do not have to allocate sites on the basis of providing the maximum possible return for landowners and developers.

• Noting that councils should also be able to consider the delivery record (or lack of) of developers or landowners, including a history of unimplemented permissions. This will also serve to encourage developers to deliver on their planning permissions.

• Incorporating the guidance on renewable energy (including heritage and amenity) published during last summer and making it clearer in relation to solar farms, that visual impact is a particular factor for consideration.

• Allowing past over-supply of housing to be taken into account when assessing housing needs.

• On the five year supply of sites, confirming that assessments are not automatically outdated by new household projections.

• Clarifying when councils can consider refusing permission on the grounds of prematurity in relation to draft plans.

• Encouraging joint working between local authorities, but clarifying that the duty to co-operate is not a duty to accept. We have considered and rejected the proposals of HM’s Opposition to allow councils to undermine Green Belt protection and dump development on their neighbours’ doorstep.’

He stressed the streamlined nature of the new National Planning Policy Framework which has reduced more than 1,000 pages of guidance to just 50. You can see the new guidance here.

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