We have been a bit quiet on our news pages for the last few months, primarily because we have been very busy with numerous applications and appeals. However, I thought it was about time for an update with regard to national planning legislation/policy, as well as local policy.
In respect of national legislation, most people will know that the two main matters to concern us all are the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF), and the Localism Bill. The NPPF is set to replace all current Planning Policy Statements and Planning Policy Guidance Notes (PPSs and PPGs). The draft version of the NPPF has recently been the subject of public consultation, which ended on 17 October 2011. The Government’s Select Committee is due to report on the consultation in December, with the NPPF set to come into effect in early 2012 (the Government is aiming for April 2012).
The Localism Bill is on a faster ‘track’ – it is expected to receive Royal Assent this month, having received its third (and final) reading in the House of Lords on 31 October. The amendments are now being considered by the House of Commons. When both Houses are agreed, it can receive Royal Assent. It is possible that the Bill will become and Act through Royal Assent as soon as 15 November. This will set some new requirements in respect of Neighbourhood Plans, the need for pre-application public consultation, and possibly allow Councils to consider financial contributions as material considerations.
If all the above change wasn’t enough to deal with, Wychavon, Malvern Hills and Worcester Council’s are currently consulting on their Draft South Worcestershire Development Plan (SWDP). This sets out the vision (and possible housing and employment allocation sites) for the next 20 years. The consultation closes on 18 November 2011, so if you have any sites that you would like us to represent, please get in touch soon.
More change a little closer to home – Cheltenham, Tewkesbury and Gloucester Council’s are close to going out to public consultation on their Draft Joint Core Strategy. Tewkesbury has already considered the draft, Cheltenham will consider it next week, with Gloucester following shortly after. It is expected to go out for public consultation in December. Again, if you have any sites and/or other comments that you would like us to help with, please let us know.
However, it should be noted that the Joint Core Strategy is a little different to the SWDP as it is only seeking to consider strategic allocations, along with a settlement hierarchy; it is not seeking to provide smaller allocations like the SWDP. Smaller allocations will be decided at a later stage by each individual Council through a Site Allocations Development Plan Document (DPD). It should however be noted that some of the proposed strategic policy context will have an impact on where allocations might be sought. With some Councils deciding to progress a suite of Development Plan Documents (like Cheltenham, Tewkesbury, and Gloucester) and others choosing to combine them all into one document (like the SWDP) it is getting quite confusing, but we are here to help.