England: The Government has taken the next step in its bid to reduce the clutter of planning policy documents. Yesterday they released the final version of the National Planning Practice Guidance and at the same time confirmed the cancellation of over 150 separate policy documents some dating back to the 1970s. The National Planning Practice Guidance (NPPG) is a web-based suite of condensed guidance notes designed to be usable and accessible. In principle it is great having all the most up-to-date policy in one place where it can be easily searched. The only question is whether ambiguities may have been left by the removal of so much guidance. The new guidance may be accessed here.
Whilst we get to grips with the new policy text, we bid farewell to many faithful old policy documents some of which I have been using since I began my career in planning. The detailed knowledge of Circular 11/95, cancelled yesterday, helped overcome an issue on an application only last month. Also cancelled was the seminal urban design guide “By Design – Urban design in the planning system: towards better practice” which arguably helped change the way planners think about the urban environment. Still at almost 19 and 14 years respectively at least these had a good innings. Others cancelled today were just a year or two old including the Technical Guidance published alongside the NPPF.
I’ll be reading through the guidance over the next few days and will point out anything noteworthy we come across.
A Statement from Planning Minster Nick Boles accompanied today’s new guidance and in it he also confirmed that the Government will be going ahead with further permitted development right changes designed to “encourage the re-use of empty and under-used buildings”. This will include the change of use for agricultural buildings and some shops to dwellings. We await the detail of the draft legislation to see how these proposals will be applied in practice.