New plan­ning rules that could help you di­catate the fu­ture

Yorkshire Post - Property - - PROPERTY - Adam Key

THE Na­tional Plan­ning Pol­icy Frame­work, or NPPF, was 2000 pages of pol­icy that has now been con­densed into 50. With less pa­per­work, yet leav­ing it more open to in­ter­pre­ta­tion of the rules, many in the in­dus­try feared that it could sti­fle de­vel­op­ment. How­ever it seems in its early stages that the op­po­site is true.

Far from be­ing an ex­cuse for NIMBY be­hav­iour, Neigh­bour­hood Plans are seen by the plan­ning in­dus­try as a pro-de­vel­op­ment tool from gov­ern­ment. The in­tro­duc­tion of them gives lo­cal peo­ple a statu­tory say in de­vel­op­ment on their doorstep. They are also a unique op­por­tu­nity for com­mu­ni­ties to en­gage with the in­dus­try and de­fine what is needed and wanted by lo­cal peo­ple.

Once adopted, they will be of sim­i­lar im­por­tance to, and in some in­stances of more im­por­tance than, Lo­cal Plans for those seek­ing plan­ning per­mis­sions.

The “pre­sump­tion in favour of sus­tain­able de­vel­op­ment” con­tained in the NPPF will be a game changer in some in­stances, as de­vel­op­ers, landown­ers and com­mu­ni­ties seek to boost the amount of lo­cal homes, schools and community in­fra­struc­ture on of­fer.

Neigh­bour­hood Plans have their leg­isla­tive ba­sis in the Lo­cal­ism Act 2011 and their im­por­tance is specif­i­cally men­tioned in lat­est plan­ning pol­icy.

It’s thought that ru­ral ar­eas should see the most ac­tiv­ity be­cause ‘neigh­bour­hoods’ are much eas­ier to quan­tify in the coun­try­side than ur­ban lo­ca­tions and in some in­stances, land own­er­ship is sim­pler if there are few landown­ers.

Those ar­eas with a strong ex­ist­ing parish coun­cil have a good start to­wards achiev­ing de­vel­op­ment fund­ing for projects such as vil­lage halls, community cen­tres and play­grounds. The rules state that Neigh­bour­hood Plans are put for­ward by a group of at least 21 locally-elected mem­bers, or a neigh­bour­hood forum. Com­mu­ni­ties who are al­ready proac­tive and en­gaged with the lo­cal plan­ning author­ity can thus ben­e­fit from de­vel­op­ment through work­ing with de­vel­op­ers, landown­ers and Lo­cal Plan­ning Au­thor­i­ties.

Ex­am­ples of pos­i­tive de­vel­op­ment we’ve seen be­ing pro­posed to date in­clude the cre­ation of af­ford­able hous­ing and ac­cess­ing fi­nance to grow community fa­cil­i­ties such as play ar­eas, small busi­ness start up units, ma­jor broad­band up­grades, vil­lage halls and community cen­tres.

In the York­shire re­gion, Hol­beck, Bos­ton Spa, Kip­pax, Ot­ley, Ripon, Mal­ton and Nor­ton have all been se­lected by the Depart­ment for Com­mu­ni­ties and Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment as na­tional neigh­bour­hood plan­ning pi­lot ar­eas.

Like­wise the parish coun­cils of Aber­ford, Bard­sey-cum-rig­ton, Bar­wick in El­met and Sc­holes, Bramham, Colling­ham with Lin­ton Parish, Thorp Arch, Wal­ton and Wetherby, have all sub­mit­ted re­quests to be des­ig­nated as neigh­bour­hood plan­ning ar­eas.

Neigh­bour­hood plans are seen by the in­dus­try as a way to boost de­vel­op­ment. They are how­ever, not com­pul­sory. There­fore, un­less com­mu­ni­ties mo­bilise and em­brace the change, lo­cal au­thor­i­ties will continue to im­pose their vi­sion on a ‘top down’ ba­sis.

As yet there have been no Neigh­bour­hood Plans adopted by a lo­cal author­ity. We pre­dict that with a short­age of new homes, es­pe­cially af­ford­able homes in ru­ral lo­ca­tions, it will only be a mat­ter of time be­fore com­mu­ni­ties start to un­der­stand what is pos­si­ble and will want to shape their own fu­ture.

How­ever, the big ques­tions are: Who will pay for them and who has the ex­per­tise to move them for­ward? Even­tu­ally, de­vel­op­ers or ma­jor landown­ers will most likely fund the plans and this should lead to a win-win sit­u­a­tion for all par­ties.

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