Post NPPF step 3: Getting to know… the Courts!

Following the publication of the NPPF, and the withdrawal of other national planning policy, if there is a dispute over the interpretation of policy, the only other place it can be worked out will be in the courts, says the Institute of Historic Building Conservation (IHBC), the professional body for built and historic environment conservation specialists.

Dave Chetwyn, IHBC past-Chair, said: ‘Now that the relevant national policy guidance has been withdrawn, with the publication of the NPPF, there is much more room for personal and professional interpretation, especially where local plans are not up to scratch. So if there is a dispute over the interpretation of policy, it is more likely to come to court for resolution.’

‘Also, of course, as courts are slow and expensive, those with money will be much more inclined to use them – or threaten their use. This was always the case, but the imbalance in the planning system has been exaggerated further, as those with access to law – or who can write it off as a business expense – will be more likely to use it to shape outcomes’.

‘And of course local authorities that don’t have specialist local conservation officers and services, or properly skilled advisers informing their decisions, will be much more likely to fall foul of any such threats, whether in fear of the courts, or in front of the judge!’

Do remember too that regardless of all the blustering about new policy, definitions and priorities, we must remember whatever the NPPF says, it can never override the local authority statutory duties defined in the 1990 Act – notably the duty to respect the ‘character’ in the ‘special interest’ of a designated building or area – especially as the government has no plans to legislate for further heritage reform.

For research on the added values of Conservation Officers and Services see: LINK 

To understand why local authorities need Conservation Officers see: LINK

For the 1990 Act, see: LINK 

Find the download link for the NPPF here: LINK

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