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Transitional arrangements and sustainability

The latest press releases announce the government's intention to bring in transitional arrangements for implementing the National Planning Policy Framework for Councils that have not yet had their core strategies approved.  

These arrangements will provide a bit more welcome stability in terms of decision making across the board. However, they also carry a risk of 'business as usual' for the less positive planning departments. If these departments continue to be approached in the same old way, then the cycle will be self-perpetuating. Taking the steer from the letter to Chief Planning Officers earlier in the year, and the draft NPPF, cases can be formulated differently to highlight sustainable aspects of development, both micro and macro, to make cases more robustly for planning permission to be granted.

The issue of the definition of sustainability in the NPPF is still outstanding. Will it stay as the generality, and continuous thread through the document, or is it to be more tightly defined? This is yet another 'wait and see'. There are pros and cons for both. Most importantly is how this translates into practice and how depleted local authority planning departments can assess sustainable development.

On energy use alone, sustainability is becoming more important. The energy industry watchdog Ofgem announced last week that the 'Big Six' energy companies are now raking in average profits of about £125 per customer per year, and newspapers are reporting a predicted increase of £300 on top of current bills. According to the Energy Saving Trust, 50% of UK homeowners think that homes with greener features are easier to sell in the current property market.


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