So there you have it. Chancellor George Osborne has confirmed that the Government’s new planning policy (NPPF) will come “into effect when the National Planning Policy Framework is published next Tuesday” 27 March.
As widely anticipated, he’s wrapped up these apparently sweeping reforms – described by Mr Osborne as “the biggest reduction in business red tape ever undertaken”, in his 2012 budget statement.
What’s in the final NPPF?
We’re not much the wiser on the content, apart from the fact that the “presumption in favour of sustainable development” is here to stay. And because the Chancellor has stated that the NPPF will come into effect on Tuesday 27 March, rumours have started to fly around the fate of transition arrangements.
However, there may be tentatively good news on this area in the full budget document (PDF) provided that’s what’s meant by the presence of “appropriate implementation arrangements for local authorities in local plans”. We’ve argued in favour of transition arrangements for NPPF to get local plans in place and to ensure those in place are valid.
What does the ‘presumption in favour’ mean’?
Without seeing the final document, we can’t be sure of the full implications. We responded to the draft by highlighting the need for a clear definition of what is meant by sustainable development, and by the phrase ‘significantly and demonstrably’ (referring to the level of harm that will need to be shown in order for a development proposal to be deemed unsustainable). The Communities and Local Government Select Committee voiced similar reservations in their report last year. We’ll have to wait until next Tuesday to find out if any of those concerns have been addressed.