Having spent the last few days digesting the contents of the newly released Version 10 of PPW, we felt we would share some of our initial thoughts on its content and its new direction.
We certainly welcome the amendments made since the consultation version and have picked out some of the content that is likely to have a bearing on the way that plans are formulated and are decisions taken.
- Placemaking at the heart of the planning system – as the new driver for decisions and plan making, placemaking is defined as “a holistic approach to the planning and design of development and spaces, focused on positive outcomes. It draws upon an area’s potential to create high quality development and public spaces that promote people’s prosperity, health, happiness, and well being in the widest sense.” In reality this reflects best practice in how the design of new development is formed.
- Design at the forefront – the role of design in the planning process is seen as being crucial to achieve the overarching aims of PPW. It tweaks and carries forward the “wheel of design” from previous versions and TAN12 and lays it firmly as the basis for plan making and decision taking.
- Creating healthier environments – it is clear that the impact that proposals can have upon the health of existing and new residents will be a greater planning consideration. As such it is possible that for more developments Health Impact Assessments could become a requirement alongside other technical documentation.
- A Role for Greenfield sites – PPW10 rightly recognises that where previously developed land is not available it is appropriate to consider greenfield sites within settlements or at the edges of settlements. In addition, whereas PPW 9 had no role for new settlements, PPW 10 confirms the circumstances where sustainable, self-contained new settlements will be considered.
- Housing targets – will be based on population projections, with robust modelling requirements for alternatives. Consideration will be given to setting local small sites targets and encouraging smaller housebuilders to deliver a larger proportion of housing.
- Viability and Deliverability will be key – viability will need to be proven at the candidate sites stage of plan making (and at subsequent stages in more detail) and through the planning application process, if any deviation from s106 requirements is proposed.
- More flexibility for lower parking standards – it is recognised that onerous minimum standards is at odds with the aims of creating well designed, healthy and sustainable places. Local Authorities will now need to set maximum requirements and allow for less provision of parking spaces. In appraising housing applications, walking and cycling will be given more importance and in non-residential schemes, 10% of spaces will need to have a vehicle charging point.
- Sustainable drainage – SUDS are to be considered at an early stage of the design evolution and are the favoured options. However, it is recognised that in some circumstances, it could be necessary for ‘hard’ infrastructure solutions to be preferred because of practical or archaeological considerations.
- A Stepwise approach to Biodiversity – environmental effects are firstly avoided, then minimised, mitigated, and as a last resort compensated for. Enhancement must be secured wherever possible. Where the adverse impacts of development outweigh other material considerations, development is to be refused.
On balance and in conclusion, much of the ground covered within PPW9 is carried forward into the re-structured document and many of the requirements have already been practically applied for some time through the existing comprehensive and rigorous requirements of the development management process.
We welcome the added emphasis of the role that the use of design in the planning system can have in creating places that people want to live. Of course, the benefits that a development can bring will always be commensurate with its scale and the remit of the Planning system, however, we hope that it will give recognition to the major benefits to the health and well being of individuals, families and communities that the delivery of housing to meet needs can bring. Indeed, housing is the most basic of human needs and if that’s not met then it seems hard to imagine how the ‘Well Being goals’ can be achieved.