Planning for business

The Q&A session was held in response to the new Draft National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) and was hosted by Regenerate Pennine Lancashire.

Issues discussed included the implications of the new policy and the impact of the current economic climate, low inflation and current and proposed planning policies on residential and commercial development across the Pennine region.

The new policy proposals aim to reduce the complexity of planning, with a focus on sustainable development, and aims to localise choice about the use of previously developed land while still protecting greenbelt land.

On the panel were Steve Hoyle, managing director at Regenerate, Simon Prideaux, head of planning at Hyndburn Borough Council, Caroline James, Trevor Dawson Chartered Surveyors, Barry Dean, associate director at B&E Boys, Neil Watson, head of planning at Pendle Borough Council and Phil Megson, spatial planning specialist adviser at Lancashire County Council.
The panel also discussed the importance of strengthened ties between the public and private sector to make the new planning policies work for this area.
Regenerate’s chairman, Dennis Mendoros, said: “These briefings can help each of us reach an understanding of how we can resolve a number of issues that may slow down developments in Pennine Lancashire.

“Recent job losses and low inflation have had an impact on the area, but we must not forget that the creation of the new enterprise zone will offer great opportunities for inward investment in Pennine Lancashire”.

On the current system, Neil Watson said: “The current framework hasn’t changed for 30 years. It worked well in the past and continues to deliver today. However, we are in a different economic system to the 90s and there has been a change in government philosophy. The NPPF may create considerable uncertainty in the development sector at a time when we all want greater certainty so we all need to formulate a plan and manage decision making effectively.”

Barry Dean added: “In the current system, it can be like moving through treacle to progress. The public and private sector need to come together and the changes to the planning reforms should help. There is no need to fear the prospect of the erosion of the Green Belt under the NPPF. Arguments against development will need to be robust and well developed and applications from developers would, correspondingly, need to be well thought out and of high quality. Let’s all embrace the change and move forward together.”

Caroline James added: “This won’t result in all development taking place. If development couldn't take place in less affluent and less desirable areas in a buoyant market, they won’t be developed in the current economic climate.”

On the issue of community-led planning, Phil Megson said: “Expectations are being raised amongst local communities by the Localism Bill, but I doubt these will always be met. Wealthier communities, well resourced with time and finance, will be able to buy in support or mobilise themselves to influence the local planning process.”