New planning rules that could help you dicatate the future
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.