Property industry welcomes draft planning framework

The property industry has reacted positively to the government’s release yesterday of its draft National Planning Policy Framework – an overhaul of the UK’s planning regulations that seeks to simplify and streamline the current system. More than a thousand pages of rules have been condensed into a 52-page document.

The British Property Federation said it would give the draft framework its “ringing endorsement” as it closely followed the Practitioners Advisory Group on the issue, which had called for a streamlined policy in order to promote economic growth.

The BCSC’s executive director Edward Cooke said that there was much to commend in the draft, but called on the government to reinforce its commitment to the “town centres first” approach to development. He said that without this, “the argument about development will simply shift from planning to the courts as debate over the strength of sequential testing as a mechanism of controlling development becomes subject to appeal and judicial review. This will further delay important town centre regeneration.”

The Financial Times notes that planning minister Greg Clark is expected to announce today further details of how any planning application will be dealt with by councils within a year, as part of the government’s proposal to make councils put growth at the centre of their plans. The new framework says there must always be a presumption towards “sustainable development”, the paper notes.

Savills’ head of planning, Roger Hepher, says the NPPF “seeks to keep what is generally regarded as good about existing planning policy, whilst introducing a decisive shift towards promoting development and prioritising economic growth.”

While cautioning that the framework is still at the draft stage, he expects it to lead to a "significant upturn" in many forms of development activity, adding: “We can expect to see a good many planning applications in the near future, as developers take advantage of the Government’s pro-development stance. We must hope that ministers will have the conviction to enforce the new approach through their own decisions on specific schemes."