On the 24 July 2018, the UK Government released a revision to its National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF), which sets out the Government’s planning policies for England and how these are expected to be applied. The Policy Framework takes a clear stance on early engagement with stakeholders and communities to ensure responsiveness to local interests and to maintain design integrity.
The NPPF was first introduced in 2012 and has since undergone scrutiny from a wide range of professionals in the public and private sectors. The revised NPPF declares that, “the creation of high quality buildings and places is fundamental to what the planning and development process should achieve”. This heightened emphasis on design quality is supported in the chapter entitled, ‘Achieving well-designed places’ which states that early and sustained engagement with stakeholders and communities should reflect local aspirations.
Paragraph 128 states, “Design quality should be considered throughout the evolution and assessment of individual proposals. Early discussion between applicants, the local planning authority and local community about the design and style of emerging schemes is important for clarifying expectations and reconciling local and commercial interests. Applicants should work closely with those affected by their proposals to evolve designs that take account of the views of the community. Applications that can demonstrate early, proactive and effective engagement with the community should be looked on more favourably than those that cannot.”
Chapter 129 says, “Local planning authorities should ensure that they have access to, and make appropriate use of, tools and processes for assessing and improving the design of development. These include workshops to engage the local community… These are of most benefit if used as early as possible in the evolution of schemes, and are particularly important for significant projects such as large scale housing and mixed use developments. In assessing applications, local planning authorities should have regard to the outcome from these processes…”
Clare San Martin, Partner at JTP Architects, says, “This call for early engagement with communities will encourage clients to embrace a collaborative rather than confrontational approach.” She continues, “Overstretched local planning authorities under pressure to deliver schemes quickly, too often allow detrimental changes following consent. A good design code developed with community and stakeholder involvement can be a really effective way of avoiding this.”
For more information about the revised NPPF and to download the document please visit https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/revised-national-planning-policy-framework