Property industry urges ministers to harness the growth potential of planning policy

28 Feb 2011

Policy area: Planning

Economic growth and job creation should be put at the heart of national planning policy, the British Property Federation (BPF) urged today as it outlined 10 key areas that Government’s proposed National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) must tackle.

A draft of the NPPF, announced as part of a shakeup of planning policy by the Planning Minister Greg Clark to streamline planning and give local communities more control over the planning system, is expected to be published in July before being formally adopted in April 2012.

Responding to a government consultation on the NPPF today, Liz Peace, chief executive of the British Property Federation, said: “The property industry is broadly in favour of paring back the planning system as it has become too large and unwieldy.  

“However, this opportunity needs to be taken to ensure the NPPF reflects the importance of stimulating sustainable economic growth and job creation – the two most urgent priorities for this country.

“While it is right that the NPPF should highlight the importance of a plan-led approach to planning, we also think it should be flexible enough to accommodate the opportunity-led nature of much of the development that takes place”.

Key among the property industry’s concerns is the definition of the “presumption in favour of sustainable development”, which senior Coalition figures have described as the “golden thread” running through the new planning system.

However, the BPF warned that the presumption could lack clout unless it is explicitly pro-growth. For example it should spell out to Local Authorities that they must grant planning permissions if they have failed to produce an up-to-date local plan and the planning application in question conforms to the NPPF.

Liz Peace commented: “The presumption is seen as a crucial part of the Government’s pro-growth agenda and is a vital counterweight to concerns that the localism agenda could result in nimbyism.

“It could prove a powerful tool in unlocking development and getting the property industry back to do doing what it does best – providing people with homes to live in and places to work whilst operating as a vital cog in the nation’s economy.

“Given the importance of the presumption we would urge the Government to strengthen it, as it currently stands we fear it become totally meaningless”.

To be successful the NPPF must achieve 10 key policy objectives. It must:

  1. Stimulate sustainable economic growth, job creation and enhancing competitiveness
  2. Maintain and enhance sustainable communities, including the infrastructure needed to support them
  3. Address local housing needs 
  4. Work to reduce carbon and promote sustainable practices
  5. Maintain the sequential preference for brownfield land and regeneration 
  6. Prevent of urban sprawl
  7. Maintain and enhance town centres 
  8. Protect, maintain and enhance the historic and cultural environment  
  9. Protect, maintain and enhance important landscapes, habitats and  coastline  
  10. Implement the National Waste Management Plan and waste management targets.