The NPPF: love it or hate it?

Posted by Sara Hanrahan, 7th July 2014
The National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) was published in March 2012 with the aim of making the planning system less “elaborate and forbidding”. The Government boasted that they were doing away with over 1000 pages of national policy and replacing with around fifty pages with the hope of allowing “people and communities back into planning. Has that aim been achieved?

Our inaugural guest blogger this month is Marcus Beale of Stow & Beale Conservation Architects. Marcus is a practising conservation architect and occasional expert witness. His views on the NPPF two years on from its introduction are set out below:

“I like the National Planning Policy Framework. It’s short. It takes precedence over local policies, and when discussing conservation reflects up to date thinking on heritage assets and heritage significance, using terminology that would be recognised in any international conference on conservation. I like the way it talks about places for people, not buildings and streets. I like the way it talks about heritage assets, not listed buildings, and the significance of the assets, not just their physical fabric. It gets the point that a city is not its walls but the inhabited places between them. A city is a living thing.

All architecture is conservation: if you are building a new room you are conserving a house, a new building conserving a street, a new street conserving a district, and so on. With this in mind designers should tread knowingly, understanding what it is that they are about to change before they change it.

The NPPF together with excellent guidance published by English Heritage gives us an agreed vocabulary and approach for assessing and discussing significance, meaning, setting and context. Sure there will be discussion about degrees of harm, justifications and outweighing benefits, implementation of policy will always involve value judgments, but In a world which knows the price of everything and the value of nothing, the NPPF represents real progress and I welcome it.”

Please feel free to blog a response and thank you to Marcus for sharing his views on the NPPF.