GM LEP prepares response to national planning policy

A briefing paper produced for board members of the Greater Manchester local enterprise partnership contains warnings about the potential impact of the government's controversial draft National Planning Policy Framework.

Among the concerns raised are a lack of brownfield targets and the 'weakening of town centre first' policies for office development.

The briefing paper will be discussed by the Greater Manchester LEP board on Monday 12 September.

The report sets out "a number of issues that are of direct relevance to Greater Manchester." Below is an extract from the report, which can be viewed in full here .

  • Presumption in favour of sustainable development – NPPF would create an entirely permissive regime where local plans are not up to date or do not conform with the new guidance. If a large proportion of existing national guidance is deleted by NPPF, it also means that there could be gaps in policy coverage until local planning authorities have had time to adopt new local planning policies, creating problems in resisting inappropriate developments.
  • Role for city regional planning and LEPs – the NPPF would support the 'Duty to Cooperate' (to be introduced through the Localism Bill) whereby Local Authorities and other public bodies plan across administrative boundaries for housing, transport and infrastructure to meet local need. This would also be a mechanism for securing economic growth by working alongside Local Enterprise Partnerships.
  • Weakening of town centre first policies – although the NPPF retains a 'town centre first' approach for retail and leisure development, office developments are no longer covered, potentially undermining city and town centres as locations for new commercial developments.
  • Greater flexibility in green belt – all 'inappropriate development' in the Green Belt remains prohibited, though changes include greater flexibility in relation to major developed sites in the green belt, local transport infrastructure, Community Right to Build schemes and for the alteration/replacement of buildings other than dwellings.
  • Additional Housing land supply – Councils will be required to retain a rolling five year supply of deliverable sites to meet housing need, with at least an additional 20% allowance to create more competition and choice.
  • Removal of Brownfield targets – the draft NPPF contains no targets for the level of housing to be delivered on brownfield land (i.e. removal of the current 60% target, which in practice was much higher for GM authorities), potentially increasing pressure on green field sites and compromising efforts to regenerate inner areas.
  • Uncertainty on sustainable transport – whilst many of the objectives for sustainable transport would be retained in NPPF, analysis by Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) suggests that it will require greater interpretation and could lead to more appeals by developers refused permission on accessibility/sustainable transport grounds. NPPF would also remove requirements to set maximum parking standards on major developments.

The draft NPPF is currently out for consultation with a deadline for comments to be submitted by 17 October.

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