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Reforms aim to put beauty – and people – at the heart of the planning system

In a major speech on planning reform, Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick has said local communities will be put at the very heart of decision-making to help shape their towns and cities.

The National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) is being amended so that the Building Beautiful Places plan will mean residents and planners will find it easier to embrace beautiful, practical design while rejecting the ugly, unsustainable or poor quality.

Announcing a new Office for Place, the new National Model Design Code and an updated National Planning Policy Framework, the ministry said: “Greater emphasis than ever before will now be placed on quality and design in the planning system. Local communities will be fully involved in how they want new developments to look and feel, with a much greater emphasis on environmental sustainability.”

Mr Jenrick said:

Today I have set out the Government’s vision for a planning system that makes beautiful, sustainable and life-enhancing design a necessity, rather than a luxury. Our revised National Planning Policy Framework will ensure that communities are more meaningfully engaged in how new development happens, that local authorities are given greater confidence in turning down schemes which do not meet locally set standards.

This is about putting communities – not developers – in the driving seat to ensure good quality design is the norm, and the return to a sense of stewardship – to building greener, enduringly popular homes and places that stand the test of time in every sense.

Nicholas Boys Smith, Chair of the Advisory Board for the Office for Place, added:

Our vision is to help families, neighbourhoods, councils, landowners, housebuilders and developers more easily create places in which our communities can prosper.

The Office for Place aims to encourage the British design and development industries to be the best ‘place-makers’ in the world aided by improving data on the discoverable links between place with happiness, health, popularity and sustainability.

The revised NPPF emphasises the benefits of pre-application engagement: “Early engagement has significant potential to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the planning application system for all parties. Good quality pre-application discussion enables better coordination between public and private resources and improved outcomes for the community.”

It adds that local planning authorities should, “where they think this would be beneficial, encourage any applicants who are not already required to do so by law to engage with the local community and, where relevant, with statutory and non-statutory consultees, before submitting their applications.”

To discuss community engagement support for your development project, please contact Andrew Howard.

Photo credit: Wiki Commons / Lw2018.