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NPPF refresh should have gone further says NALC

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Responding to the publication of the long-awaited National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) update by Government yesterday.

Cllr Sue Baxter, chairman of NALC, said: “While NALC broadly welcomes the publication of the long-awaited NPPF update which contains some helpful and positive changes, the Government should have gone further in giving communities more of a say over planning and housing in their areas.

"We share the Government’s desire to build attractive and better-designed homes in areas where they are supported and needed, and we are pleased planning authorities will be empowered to challenge poor quality and unattractive development. But we still feel strongly that the priority moving forward should be delivering a sustainable supply of quality affordable homes, especially in rural areas. We still think that the Government should ensure through the Letwin Review that planning permissions are built out and we look forward to the final report and recommendations.

"Communities must have a greater say on development in their areas including how this should look and feel – but this must now translate into more meaningful early consultation and engagement with local (parish and town) councils as place leaders by both developers and planning authorities. Moves to strengthen the duty to co-operate between local authorities are welcome but this is a minimum pre-requisite if there is to be greater responsibility and accountability for housing delivery from councils and developers. But we can't escape from the fact that planning authorities are under huge pressure from lack of resources, especially in planning departments. That is why we welcome the promotion of new digital mapping tools for planning authorities to use when consulting communities including local councils.

"For the Government’s intention that adopted neighbourhood plans demonstrating clear local leadership in design quality to work, the new Framework does not go far enough in ensuring that Neighbourhood Plans are strengthened and better protected, that the demands on Neighbourhood Forums and local councils are reduced and that planning authorities and developers don’t continue to over-ride Neighbourhood Plans. While the mainstreaming of neighbourhood planning is a step forward, Government has missed a trick and we will continue to make the case and work with the government on further strengthening neighbourhood planning."

The new Framework also contains updated guidance on stronger protection for the environment, greater protection for ancient trees and woods, reinstating the link to Garden City principles as well as the Climate Change Act 2018. Ministers have been clear on their ambition to achieve 300,000 new homes a year by the mid-2020s, which follows 217,000 homes built last year. The new rules will see 85 of the proposals set out in the housing white paper and the Budget, implemented in the new National Planning Policy Framework.

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