National Planning Policy Framework and National Model Design Code (due 27 March)

Some of the proposed changes have a direct impact on how planning applications are determined and will be relevant to AR members.

Retail Parks and retail warehouse units have many common design characteristics (big box shape, cladding materials, spatial relationship to car parking etc) and unless the different operational circumstances of our sector are pointed out, the new approach has the potential to raise problems. Under pressure from nearby community groups and seeking to reflect the new approach in the NPPF, LPAs could seek to impose inappropriate designs which could:

  • be more reflective of town centre and high street environments
  • impact on operational efficiency (internally, deliveries, customer car parking)
  • add significantly to costs.

In AR’s view, the following 4 areas are potentially of concern to our members:

  1. Paragraph 20 has been amended to require strategic policies to set out an overall strategy for the pattern, scale and design quality of places.  Also, changed is the overarching social objective of the planning system to include the fostering of “well-designed, beautiful and safe places”, where previously it required “a well-designed and safe built environment.
  2. Paragraph 133 introduces a new test that says that development that is not well designed should be refused, especially where it fails to reflect local design policies and government guidance on design.  Conversely it says significant weight should be given to: development which reflects local design policies and government guidance on design
  3. New limits are introduced on the use of article 4 directions to restrict development by limiting the use of article 4 directions to remove national permitted development rights so that: where they relate to change of use to residential, they are limited to situations where it is essential to avoid wholly unacceptable adverse impacts.
  4. Regarding the Model Design Code, the Government is seeking views on the application of the design code in practice and the draft content itself. It:
  • outlines the design standards that new developments will be expected to meet;
  • serves as a checklist of design principles to consider for new developments;
  • indicates that the code should be used as a foundation for when local authorities/residents draw up their own local design codes.

If you have views that you would like AR to represent then please get in touch.