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Sustainability and Design

Planning consultant David Kemp BSc (Hons) MRICS Barrister* (*non-practising) and Director at DRK Planning Ltd, comments

On 30 January 2021, the Government published three new documents for consultation:  the revised National Planning Policy Framework, the National Model Design Code and Guidance Notes for the Model Design Code.

The latter two documents run to nearly 150 pages. For those looking to understand the direction of national planning policy and prepare for planning applications and PD applications for extra storeys to existing buildings (architects, developers, planners), they will make essential reading (or for others having difficulty sleeping at night!).

This month, I look at the key changes around these documents and in particular an overview of the new National Design Code and what it seeks to achieve.

Changes to the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF)
The Government is proposing a number of key changes around the NPPF, which has been revised periodically since its introduction in 2012:

  • Greater emphasis on carbon-reduction through development and greater environmental sustainability.
  • More emphasis on better design and achieving more ‘beautiful’ buildings, reflecting the direction of planning policy towards more ‘pattern book development’ and the implementation in future of local design codes.
  • A high policy test the Councils need to hurdle before using Article 4 Directions to withdraw PD rights for change of use to residential.
  • Other changes around policy on flood risk and the removal of monuments, plaques and statues of historic significance.

The NPPF sets out the national policy context for local authorities in terms of their local policies. They can depart from it where local need or evidence supports a departure, but it is normally followed. It is the ‘high level’ starting point for local policy objectives.

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