National Planning Policy Framework unveiled

The National Planning Policy Framework is now in force. The Planning Minister Greg Clark stated that the new framework:
• made it clear that the local plan was the keystone of the planning regime
• was crystal clear that sustainable development embraces social and environmental as well as economic objectives and does so in a balanced way
• referred explicitly to the five principles of the UK Sustainable Development Strategy
• went further than ever before and is clear that councils should look for net improvements on all dimensions of sustainability
• made explicit that the presumption in favour of sustainable development works through, not against, local plans
• made it clear that relevant policies – such as those protecting the Green Belt, Sites of Special Scientific Interest, National Parks and other areas – cannot be overridden by the presumption
• recognised the intrinsic value and beauty of the countryside (whether specifically designated or not)
• made explicit what was always implicit: that councils’ policies must encourage brownfield sites to be brought back into use
• underlined the importance of town centres, while recognising that businesses in rural communities should be free to expand
• embraced a localist approach to creating a buffer of housing supply over and above five years, and in the use of windfall sites
• allowed councils to protect back gardens – those precious urban oases
• ensured that playing fields continue to benefit from that same protection that they do currently.

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