The Institute of Historic Building Conservation (IHBC), the UK’s professional body for built and historic environment conservation specialists, has submitted its qualified support for England’s National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF), as the IHBC’s Chair says to government: ‘Yes’, to the presumption in favour of sustainable development, but ‘No’, to its ambiguous interpretation; ‘No’, because of uncertainties over supporting guidance, capacity and skills, though ‘Yes’ to the idea that the ‘smaller policy’ can work.
IHBC Chair Jo Evans said: ‘We do think that having a presumption in favour of sustainable development is a positive step forward from the existing, simplistic position of just favouring development, and that can be warmly welcomed’.
‘But we are also very concerned about the interpretation of sustainable development, not least as we think it may contravene agreements across the UK’s devolved government, a point we raised with the Parliamentary Committee examining the document.’
‘Also, the reduced policy document cannot be successful without addressing three major unknowns: detailed policy to underpin the NPPF; capacity in local authorities to manage it, and skills across the public and private sectors to interpret it. That said, we do strongly support the direction of the government to reduce and simplify planning policy in this way.’
‘So it is a ‘Yes; No; No; Yes’ from the IHBC ‘
IHBC President Trefor Thorpe said: ‘The IHBC has successfully developed its own stance on this issue; one that chimes with the Government’s desire to encourage regeneration and employment, whilst demanding adequate protection for the built historic environment through the encouragement of good quality support and services for heritage area and building care and renewal.’
The IHBC’s response identified key needs for the success of the NPPF, including:
· the interpretation of ‘sustainable development’ needing a substantial rewrite to reflect better the implementation of the ‘5 shared principles for Sustainable Development’, as agreed across devolved governments and, as the IHBC’s submission to the Select Committee argued, an interpretation not capable of such substantial re-casting without the formal agreement of the devolved governments
· transitional arrangements for Local Plans
· strengthening the policy on design and, crucially,
· the need for guidance, capacity and skills to reflect the reduced policy, without which the NPPF is ‘unlikely to lead to the ‘quicker, better, lower cost’ planning which ought to be a common objective’.
Download the IHBC’s response: HERE
For the extensive background on the NPPF, do a search on ‘NPPF’ on the IHBC’s NewsBlog web archive at: LINK