BPF says further clarity is needed to NPPF guidance

The British Property Federation (BPF) has questioned whether certain aspects of the NPPF’s guidance contradict the principles set out in Government’s planning policy.

In its response to a Government consultation, the BPF noted that overall the draft NPPG provides a helpful explanation of the complexities of planning law and procedure, together with providing guidance on technical issues which is advisory and informative.

However, there are several potentially key areas where the draft NPPG strays into policy-making, and interprets the NPPF in a new fashion. The property trade body recommended a number of reforms to the guidance, including:

  • Clarity on the status of the NPPG with regard to the weight it should be given in planning decisions;
  • Consistency in the tone of the language used throughout the document;
  • A PDF of the guidance to be made available in order to facilitate the use of necessary hard copies;
  • Review of the guidance’s treatment of economic need and development;
  • Review of the guidance’s section on town centres, to include encouragement of local authorities (LAs) to plan positively for town centre need, and resolve the contradiction with the NPPF that results from its reintroduction of the principle of disaggregation;
  • Review of the guidance’s treatment of prematurity, to resolve its contradiction with the NPPF arising from its stance on the presumption in favour of sustainable development in cases where LAs have no plan;
  • Greater brevity in the guidance’s text on World Heritage Sites – which is at present wholly disproportionate to their relative status;
  • Specificity on how frequently conservation area appraisals should be updated;
  • Removal of the parking-related recommendations from the guidance, to be omitted or added to the NPPF instead – following consultation under a formal review process;
  • Additional guidance on the provision of affordable housing;
  • Consideration of the role of the Mayor of London in plan-making or planning application determination.

Liz Peace, chief executive of the BPF, said:

“We have largely welcomed the draft NPPG for its role in providing much-needed brevity and clarification on a wide range of planning issues. However, given that the creation of the NPPF and NPPG has been designed as an aid to removing confusion from the planning process, it is of great importance that the final documents are in complete tandem with one another on policy, and that developers and LAs can be completely clear on which document takes final precedence.”