What does the National Planning Policy Framework mean for sustainability?

The coalition government's National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) was brought into immediate effect when it was published on 27th March 2012.

It outlines the planning policies for England with the purpose of achieving sustainable development. When new planning applications are made, the National Planning Policy Framework must be taken into account and will be a major factor in determining planning decisions.

Environmental Protection Within The National Planning Policy Framework

There is a great focus in the National Planning Policy Framework on environmental protection, such as outlines for the protection of the countryside and green belt and encouraging planners to select brownfield sites for development rather than greenfield sites. 

Greg Clarke, Minister for Decentralisation and Cities said "The purpose of planning is to help achieve sustainable development…sustainable means ensuring that better lives for ourselves don't mean worse lives for future generations".

The five guiding principles of sustainable development as described in the document are; to live within the planets means, to ensure a strong, healthy and just society, to achieve a sustainable economy, to promote good governance and to use sound science responsibly. 

Environment secretary Caroline Spelman said "The new planning framework is good news for local communities, the environment and the economy. It shows that economic recovery and protecting the environment can go hand in hand. Sustainable development will be at the cornerstone of economic growth - and the new planning framework clearly sets out that any new development must be environmentally friendly".

The National Planning Policy Framework has brought many ideas into action which have the potential to improve the sustainability of new developments but the industry will just have to wait and see how it works in practice before real judgements can be made on it's effectiveness.