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National Policy Planning Framework

The NPPF was published by the UK's Department of Communities and Local Government in March 2012, consolidating over two dozen previously issued documents called Planning Policy Statements (PPS) and Planning Policy Guidance Notes (PPG) for use in England.  It purported to simplify the large range of documents but has led to new cases in the courts leading to interpretation of its meaning.  Its intention was to loosen previous restrictions on building on Green Belt land.

National Policy Planning Guidelines

The National Planning Practice Guidance (NPPG) website was launched in response to the Taylor Review. The review set out that the government should bring together all planning guidance in one easy-to-navigate website. The principle being that by removing the plethora of often rather aged and out of date guidance with one up-to-date source the planning system would become more accessible and as a result speedier.The website represents a massive stripping back of the current guidance, whole documents are summarised into just a few paragraphs.

Guidance should put more meat on the bones of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF), presenting more detail to support Local Planning Authorities (LPAs) in drawing up their local plans and providing more information and explanation for local communities. The new guidance is so minimalist in its approach it seemingly only acts as signposting to the NPPF and legislation. Such an approach can only lead to more planning by appeal as the Planning Inspectorate and the Secretary of State are forced to make more decisions as LPA decisions will increasingly be seen as open to argument.

Planning Inspectorate

The Planning Inspectorate for England and Wales (sometimes referred to as PINS) is an executive agency of the Department for Communities and Local Government of the United Kingdom Government. It is responsible for determining final outcomes of town planning and enforcement appeals and public examination of local development plans. It also deals with a wide variety of other planning-related casework including planning appeals - about, for instance, shop signs and advertisement displays on hoardings, bus shelters etc., and cases on which Inspectors report to the Secretary of State concerned on planning applications requiring ministerial approval.

The PINS web site, the Planning Portal, contains its own extensive glossary of planning terms

Safeguarded Land

Land identified in a Local Authority Local Plan evidence documents, between the Green Belt and an urban area, which has been reserved for development purposes beyond the Plan period. Such sites are intended to be extracted from the green fields surrounding an urban area by drawing a boundary to define land that will meet long term development needs and reduce the pressure to amend Green Belt boundaries (see NPPF Para 85)

NPPF - 9 Protecting Green Belt Land - Para 85

When defining boundaries, local planning authorities should:

  • ensure consistency with the Local Plan strategy for meeting identified requirements for sustainable development;
  • not include land which it is unnecessary to keep permanently open;
  • where necessary, identify in their plans areas of ‘safeguarded land’ between the urban area and the Green Belt, in order to meet longer-term development needs stretching well beyond the plan period;
  • make clear that the safeguarded land is not allocated for development at the present time. Planning permission for the permanent development of safeguarded land should only be granted following a Local Plan review which proposes the development;
  • satisfy themselves that Green Belt boundaries will not need to be altered at the end of the development plan period; and
  • define boundaries clearly, using physical features that are readily recognisable and likely to be permanent. 

Suitable Alternative Natural Greenspace

'Suitable Alternative Natural Greenspace' (SANG) is the name given to green space that is of a quality and type suitable to be used as mitigation within the Thames Basin Heaths SPA planning zone. 

Its role is to provide alternative green space to divert visitors from visiting the Thames Basin Heaths Special Protection Area (SPA). SANG is intended to provide mitigation for the potential impact of residential development on the SPA by preventing an increase in visitor pressure on the SPA. The effectiveness of SANG as mitigation will depend upon the location and design. These must be such that the SANG is more attractive than the SPA to users of the kind that currently visit the SPA.

SANG may be created from:

  • existing open space of SANG quality with no existing public access or limited public access, which for the purposes of mitigation could be made fully accessible to the public
  • existing open space which is already accessible but which could be changed in character so that it is more attractive to the specific group of visitors who might otherwise visit the SPA
  • land in other uses which could be converted into SANG e.g. agricultural land

The identification of SANG should seek to avoid sites of high nature conservation value which are likely to be damaged by increased visitor numbers. Such damage may arise, for example, from increased disturbance, erosion, input of nutrients from dog faeces, and increased incidence of fires. Where sites of high nature conservation value are considered as SANG, the impact on their nature conservation value should be assessed and considered alongside relevant policy in a local authority development plan.

The 'mitigation' strategies are required to conform to the regulations issued by Natural England; no development within 400 metres of the SPA boundary; any significant residential development beyond 400 metres and up to 5 kilometres of the SPA boundary must provide new areas of green land [SANGs] to act to attract new residents outdoor leisure activities (walking, off-road cycling, dog walking etc) away from the TBHSPA. SANGs are required to include car parking to encourage use and access and contain a circular walk of some kilometres.

There is a calculation used in planning practice regarding mitigation based on 8ha of SANG per 1000 people in new development.  In practice, this can be converted into a 'rule of thumb' 52 dwellings per hectare of SANG. For example, if an area of 25 hectares of agricultural land is proposed as SANG, this will offset the building of 1,300 new dwelling within the 400m-5Km zone of TBHSPA; alternately a proposed development of 400 dwellings within the 400m-5Km zone of TBHSPA attracts a mitigation requirement of approximately 8 hectares of SANG.

Wednesday the 25th - Published by Normandy Action Group, 166 Glaziers Lane, Guildford GU3 2EB - with thanks to Keith Witham, Surrey County Councillor - Hostgator Coupon Template