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Last edited 08 Jul 2014
The process of obtaining consent for development is seen by some as a barrier to growth. It can be perceived to be slow and over-bureaucratic, with too many policy documents and too many different bodies able to prevent or slow down approval.
In March 2012, the coalition government published the National Planning Policy Framework which replaced a wide range of previous planning policy statements and planning policy guidance with a much more streamlined approach. The framework also dismantled the regional planning apparatus and introduced neighbourhood planning. The framework stated in no uncertain terms that ‘...the purpose of planning is to help achieve sustainable development……Development that is sustainable should go ahead, without delay.’
The framework was widely cited as reducing planning policy from over 1000 pages to around 50, however, whilst the framework itself was just 50 pages long, other planning policies remained effective unless they were specifically revoked by the framework (see Planning policy replaced by the NPPF)
 The Taylor Report
The Taylor Report ‘External Review of Government Planning Practice Guidance’ was prepared by Lord Matthew Taylor of Goss Moor for the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) and was published in December 2012. It can be read in full on the Gov.uk website.
Taylor was asked to review the 7,000 plus pages of government planning practice guidance (largely ‘owned’ by DCLG) that supports national planning policy, with a view to dramatically reducing it and replacing it with more accessible and effective guidance. He was asked to recommend:
- The scope and form of guidance that should be provided in future.
- What new or updated practice guidance should be published.
- What guidance should be cancelled.
- What scope there was to encourage the planning sector to produce appropriate guidance.
Lord Taylor said '...it is very clear that the old way of doing things is no longer fit for purpose. We have made recommendations for a modern web-based resource that is clear, up-to-date, coherent and easily usable, not just by planners and developers, but the public too.'
Taylor proposed that:
- Guidance should be restricted to that which is essential.
- Guidance should clarify the ‘ground rules’ for the planning process but should not attempt to replace local skills and judgement.
- Best practice is best managed by practitioner bodies and should be removed from guidance. It should however be sign-posted from government sources.
- Government planning practice guidance may explain requirements, but should not unnecessarily restate regulations and statutory instruments.
- Regulations and statutory instruments should be written clearly so they can be understood without having to piece together a trail of historic amendments.
- Guidance should be 'live managed' to ensure it does not get into a confused state again.
- It should be more clear what is formal government planning practice guidance. Guidance should be clearly identified, referenced, dated and accessible in one place.
- Government planning practice guidance should be published in a web-based, live resource, accessible free of charge.
- Users users should be able to post their comments on the site, allowing a ‘crowd-sourced’ check to ensure the contents of the site remain current.
Taylor suggested that the great majority of this work should be completed by July 2013. However, coming so close on the heels of the introduction of the National Planning Policy Framework there were concerns that planning could be thrown into disarray. Some campaigners described the findings of the review as giving the go ahead for a bonfire of planning rules, creating a charter for development and putting the countryside at risk.
The government welcomed the findings of the review and launched a consultation to seeks views on the review’s recommendations. The consultation closed on 15 February 2013. In May 2103 the Government response to the review and consultation (ref DCLG) suggested that the timeframe for change might be extended, stating 'We believe that the current guidance should remain in place until the new guidance suite is ready. We consider this important to ensure that there is no gap or perceived gap in the provision of guidance, and so will not be accepting the recommendation to cancel any material ahead of the new guidance being available.'
On 28 August 2013, the National Planning Practice Guidance (NPPG) website was launched as a beta site by the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG). It claimed to have reduced the volume of guidance by over 90 per cent. On 6 March 2014 the DCLG launched the final NPPG website. This was accompanied by a Written Ministerial Statement which includes a list of the previous planning practice guidance documents cancelled when this site was launched.
In October 2013, Planning Minister Nick Boles announced a phased programme to reduce the number of technical planning regulations to 78 - a reduction of 57 per cent. This will:
- Consolidate rules on permitted development.
- Tackle unnecessary and overly burdensome requirements for applications.
- Scrap 38 redundant regulations.
 Find out more
 Related articles on Designing Buildings Wiki
- Egan report.
- Growth and Infrastructure Act.
- Killian Pretty Review.
- Latham report.
- National Planning Practice Guidance.
- National Planning Policy Framework.
- Neighbourhood planning.
- Penfold review.
- Planning permission.
- Planning policy replaced by the NPPF.
 External references.
- The report in full.
- Taylor review consultation process.
- DCLG: Government response to the external review of government planning practice guidance consultation and report. May 2013.
- The legislation, policy and guidance that underpins planning in England can be found on the government's National Planning Practice Guidance website.
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