The government has launched consultation on draft revisions to the National Planning Policy Framework and a new draft National Model Design Code, announced as part of its response to the recommendations of the Building Better, Building Beautiful Commission. Consultation will close at the end of March.
The text of the planning policy framework has been specifically revised to implement policy changes in response to the Commission's “Living with Beauty” report.
There are a number of other changes to the text of the Framework, but the government says it is not proposing a review of the National Planning Policy Framework in its entirety at this stage, though "one is likely to be required in due course, depending on the implementation of the government’s proposals for wider reform of the planning system."
This consultation is also seeking views on the draft National Model Design Code, which provides detailed guidance on the production of design codes, guides and policies to promote successful design. The government says it has made a commitment to seek views on the National Model Design Code as it expects it to be used to inform the production of local design guides, codes and policies and wants to ensure it is as effective as possible.
The government is inviting expressions of interest from local planning authorities in England to test the National Model Design Code.
It says it wants to undertake a programme of consultation and engagement with local planning authorities and industry to test aspects of the process and content of the National Model Design Code (NMDC), how it might be applied to different contexts, and the use of design coding in the planning system generally. The findings will help inform potential further development of the NMDC and decisions on use of design codes in the future reformed planning system.
It proposes to test the application of the NMDC with up to 10 local planning authorities selected through an Expression of Interest process. Each will be provided with a £50,000 grant, to help them test aspects of the process and content of the NMDC, to inform its further development, how it might be applied to different contexts, and the use of design coding in the planning system generally.
"Outputs might be the development of local design codes and guides, testing community engagement processes to support their development, or its application alongside other planning tools such as Neighbourhood Planning," says MHLG.
The purpose of the NMDC is to provide detailed guidance on the production of local design codes, guides and policies that lead to successful design. It provides advice to local planning authorities on the process for producing codes, the design parameters and issues that need to be considered and tailored to their own context when producing local design codes and guides. It includes methods to capture and reflect the views of the local community through the process.
Local planning authorities that would like to submit an expression of interest are invited to do so by February 22nd, with decisions promised by March 1st.
Submissions will be in a required format detailing the development area they wish to apply the NMDC to, the planning status of the area for testing, for example in local plans and other policies, and the aspect of the NMDC they wish to test. This might include for example: a design code for a site, its application on Neighbourhood Plans or wide area planning, or testing the community consultation process on an emerging design code. Those seeking to be involved will be required to set out a defined output from the process, whether a code, process or other tool.
"We will be seeking a mix of proposals from different locations and contexts to test the NMDC in different geographic locations and area types," says the Department. "We expect to select local planning authorities spread across England with different spatial contexts, development aspirations, geography, design policies and design resources."
National Planning Policy Framework and National Model Design Code
National Planning Policy Framework : draft text for consultation