If you are a planner, you know this already: the UK Coalition Government has just published the final version of its National Planning Policy Framework. This reform of planning in the UK took more than 1000 pages of planning policy and guidance and distilled it to a sharp 47 pages, excluding the annexes. It does not replace the Planning Act 2008, of course.
The draft version issued last July and criticized by environmentalists as a "licence to build," introduced a presumption in favour of sustainable development when it comes to planning decisions. The final version actually provided something of a definition of sustainable development, which the draft lacked (National Planning Policy Framework, 2012, p.2), stating:
The UK Sustainable Development Strategy Securing the Future set out five ‘guiding principles’ of sustainable development: living within the planet’s environmental limits; ensuring a strong, healthy and just society; achieving a sustainable economy; promoting good governance; and using sound science responsibly.
The NPPF goes on to outline the three dimensions of sustainable development: economic, social and environmental.
Given the impetus for the new NPPF is driven by concern over an anticipated shortfall in housing supply in the near future, I would say that it is pretty much a licence to build. And that's not necessarily a bad thing.
Not surprisingly, there has been much coverage of the Framework both in its draft and final form. Links to the coverage on the day the NPPF was released are provided here: The Guardian, The Telegraph (which waged the "Hands Off Our Land" campaign when the draft Framework was issued) and the Royal Town Planning Institute blog.
Key planning reforms in the NPPF include local authorities with no local plan having 12 months to come up with one otherwise planning decisions are to be made in accordance with the aforementioned presumption.
Interestingly, the Framework outlines 12 core planning principles, including the one that caught my eye, which states, at p. 5, planning should:
not simply be about scrutiny, but instead be a creative exercise in finding ways to enhance and improve the places in which people live their lives.
In my opinion, Bermuda could benefit from such an approach in both its plan-making and planning decisions.