Thursday, 6 March 2014

On the reporting of the NPPG

The Telegraph reported this morning that Nick Boles would introduce to the House of Commons today, two years after the NPPF, the accompanying National Planning Practice Guidance (NPPG). Mr Boles is reported as saying that the guidance, 'which will cut 7,000 pages of existing material down to 1,000', shows that 'the Government is acting in areas where the NPPF is not working as it should.'

The NPPG was indeed published alongside an accompanying written ministerial statement on local planning.

On first glance there is nothing within the guidance that fundamentally alters the interpretation or operation of the NPPF from a planning point of view. The list of provisions empathised in Mr Boles’ statement, and the reference in the Telegraph to the NPPF 'not working as it should', are perhaps designed to reassure those concerned that the NPPF represented a ‘relaxing of planning laws’.

The news of the NPPG emerged in the Telegraph (I cannot see it being reported anywhere else) and was reported as a tightening of the NPPF the day after Nigel Evans, MP for Ribble Valley, asked the Prime Minister at PMQs about the planning inspectorate 'over riding the wishes of local people' and 'localism being destroyed' by appeal decisions. Mr Evans was refeing to this case in Barrow, where Ribble Valley Borough Council are making noises about a Judicial Review.

With a general election looming it is easy to imagine a Malcolm Tucker-type figure in Conservative Party HQ endorsing a call for new homes nationally whilst at the same time conveying to MPs and residents an impression that there are further grounds to object to unpopular proposals and plans locally...

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