Online NPPG 'good, but needs improving'

The RIBA and RTPI have both welcomed the publication of revised National Planning Practice Guidance (NPPG) on a dedicated website, although RIBA says it would still like to see improvements on housing design guidance.

Announcing the launch of the website, which follows on from a consultation last summer, planning minister Nick Boles said he wanted to draw to attention the fact that the government still expects local councils to consider strict tests on flood protection laid out in national policy, and that it is rearming protection of all existing Green Belts.

The guidance does, however, make it easier to redevlelop empty shops as housing, and to convert redundant agricultural buildings to small housing developments.

In a written ministerial statement, he said he had also rejected what he claimed was the Labour opposition’s idea of allowing councils to “dump development on their neighbours’ doorstep”.

The new guidance has come about following a review by Lord Taylor of Goss Moor.

RIBA’s head of external affairs Anna Scott-Marshall said: “Significant improvements have been made during the drafting of the guidance. There are however, still some areas where improvements will need to be made. The housing design section, for instance is inadequate and we still have concerns over the government’s approach to viability, which remains skewed towards short-term financial interests above the need for sustainable growth.”

RTPI president Cath Ranson said the new website gave greater certainty to communities and planners. She said: “The government should maintain a clear demarcation between policy that is contained in the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) and practice which is in the National Planning Practice Guidance (NPPG). Government must also resist the temptation to change policy by making changes to the NPPG rather than the NPPF.”

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