Thu, 13 Mar 2014
On 6 March Nick Boles announced the launch of the new Planning Practice Guidance (‘PPG’). The guidance has been in draft ‘Beta’ format since 28 August 2013. It follows a review of planning policy guidance undertaken by Lord Taylor of Goss Moor which began in October 2012. This note is intended to provide a brief overview of the guidance and some of its key features.
The PPG has cancelled a raft of planning guidance which, according to Mr Boles, amounted to 1,000 pages. The PPG apparently runs to less than 50, though this is difficult to confirm in its electronic format.
The introduction to DCLG’s written statement, heralding the introduction of the new guidance, states:
‘The Coalition Government is committed to reforming the planning system to make it simpler, clearer and easier for people to use, allowing local communities to shape where development should and should not go. Planning should not be the exclusive preserve of lawyers, developers or town hall officials.
We are also committed to ensuring that countryside and environmental protections continue to be safeguarded, and devolving power down not just to local councils, but also down to neighbourhoods and local residents.’
The above statement suggests that this government is intent on sticking to its ‘localism’ rhetoric despite the overwhelming opinion of planning professionals and commentators that the introduction of the NPPF has not put decision-making in the hands of the populace. It remains to be seen whether the continued use of this phraseology in relation to the PPG is mere political gainsaying or whether it will be backed up by the gloss that the PPG will place on the NPPF.
The PPG contains 41 categories; from ‘Advertisements’ to ‘Water supply’. Each category contains sub-topics which when clicked on reveal a series of questions and answers. It is designed to be accessible and user friendly. It succeeds to some degree. However, users should be wary that the topics are not entirely self-contained. Research on some matters, for example housing need and supply, will involve browsing a number of the topics.
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