UKGBC fully supports the need for new housing, and we welcome the ambitions set out in the draft National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) on reducing greenhouse gas emissions, improving resilience and creating well-designed places and high-quality buildings.
However, we remain concerned about how these will be delivered in practice when much of the language around climate change and sustainability has been weakened compared to the current NPPF, and other key opportunities such as delivering social value for communities, have been overlooked.
UKGBC therefore recommends:
- That the definition of sustainable development is strengthened and fully aligned with other Government policy such as the 25 Year Environment Plan (25YEP). The finalised NPPF should make clear that these strengthened objectives are ‘criteria against which every decision should be judged.’ In addition, we would like to see the principle of ‘net environmental gain’ enshrined and prioritised within the NPPF, and greater emphasis placed on protecting wildlife and biodiversity.
- The Government should clarify that local authorities have powers to require higher standards on energy and carbon. In an age of devolution, metro mayors and strong city leadership on climate change, it seems perverse to artificially limit the powers of local authorities. Government should enable and encourage leadership from local authorities to help us meet our carbon targets. UKGBC is committed to supporting local authorities move forward collectively and consistently, which is particularly important for developers.
- The NPPF should recognise the importance of social value as a concept that is being increasingly applied to the planning and development process. Social value is a means of articulating and quantifying the positive impact that development has on residents, businesses and other stakeholders in a community. Delivering social value should be one of the overarching ambitions of the NPPF, with planners encouraged to utilise it as a tool for ensuring good outcomes for communities.
- Linked to this, UKGBC welcomes the ambition to revise the current approach to viability. However, we believe Government needs to go much further and work with industry and local government to develop a more progressive model of viability which would balance developer costs with not just the sale or rental income from the development, but with a financial calculation of some of the long-term benefits of the development to society.
- The issue of the health and wellbeing of individuals and communities, and the potential for the built environment to enhance this, should be recognised as a Strategic Policy by the Planning System.
UKGBC has also recently coordinated a letter, co-signed by Core Cities UK and UK100, calling for support for local authorities’ efforts to cut carbon emissions from new homes through planning policy. Read the letter here.