On 30th January the Government launched consultations on changes to the National Planning Policy Framework, the document which sets out national policy for plan making and decision taking.

The proposed changes include responses to the Building Better Building Beautiful Commission “Living with Beauty” report.  This could include changing the social objective of the planning system to encourage “well-designed, beautiful and safe places”, and introducing a new test that all development should be well-designed. Tree planting within developments is to be particularly encouraged.  At the same time, the Government is consulting on the draft National Model Design Code, which will provide detailed guidance on the production of design codes, guides and policies to promote successful design.

The wording of the ‘presumption in favour of sustainable development’ may be amended to highlight the importance of both infrastructure and climate change, including making more efficient use of land in urban areas. Whilst the implications have yet to be tested, it’s likely that planners will have to focus more on allocating new housing in towns, as well as on environmental considerations such as biodiversity and environmental gain.

Another key change relates to large development proposals, stating that “Where larger scale development such as new settlements form part of the strategy for the area, policies should be set within a vision that looks further ahead (at least 30 years), to take into account the likely timescale for delivery.”

For affordable housing, the draft document clarifies that where major housing development is proposed, planning policies and decisions should expect at least ten per cent of the total number of homes to be available for affordable home ownership.

Policies on flood risk are also proposed for amendment, clarifying that development plans should manage residual flood risk by using opportunities provided by new development, and improvements in green and other infrastructure, to reduce the causes and impacts of flooding.

Also, following national events over the course of last summer, the plan proposes a requirement for councils considering any applications to remove or alter a historic statue, plaque or memorial to have regard to the importance of retaining these heritage assets; and where appropriate, of explaining their historic and social context rather than removal.

The Government is inviting people to submit their views on these proposed changes under the current consultation, which will close at 11.45pm on 27th March 2021.

As a proactive firm with an experienced and successful planning team, Greenslade Taylor Hunt makes it a priority to keep abreast of an ever-changing planning policy and legislative landscape.

If you are planning a project or require assistance on any aspect of planning and development, please contact our dedicated Development Land & Planning Department on (01823) 334466 or email landplanning.taunton@gth.net