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The National Planning Policy Framework and Community Led Design

Posted on 28 March 2012

Written by:

Sophia de Sousa

Yesterday, the final version of the new National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) was released. I would like to draw attention to three very simple points that Minister Greg Clark makes in his foreword to the document:

  1. Our standards of design can be so much higher.
  2. Planning must be a creative exercise in finding ways to enhance and improve the way we live our lives.
  3. This should be a collective exercise.

Community led design aims to do all of this, and the support that The Glass-House has given communities leading built environment projects over the past decade has been founded on these principles. We firmly believe that a participatory design process that places local people at the heart of changes to their neighbourhoods can lead to neighbourhoods that are more economically, environmentally and socially sustainable. With the right support, community led design and planning can lead to more creative and better informed solutions to local problems, and to places that are both functional and delightful.

However, let us be under no illusion that this is a quick simple process. In order to achieve great placemaking, the emerging neighbourhood plans will have to grapple with urban design principles and planning legislation, feeding them into an inclusive and participatory design and planning process. They will need to consider the social, economic and environmental impact of their plans in the short and long term. Their community will need to include those who live, work, study and play in the area.  It will need to consider and include local residents, businesses and government, as well as those who manage, maintain and service the area.  Each neighbourhood plan will have to fully understand and respond to issues around land ownership and to the local (social, historical, economic, environmental etc.) context. It must also consider how the neighbourhood links to and complements the neighbourhoods around it. Neighbourhood plans must begin with a thorough understanding of place, a collective vision for change and an informed and aspirational brief.

So Minister Clark, we agree with your declaration of the importance of design quality, achieved through a creative and collaborative process, as a means of improving quality of life. We hope that the application of this new National Planning Policy Framework, and in particular the presumption in favour of sustainable development, creates the space for inspired and inspiring design and planning by, with and for communities. And we hope that adequate time, resources and practical support will be made available to help make this happen.*

Read the whole National Planning Policy Framework document here

*The Department for Communities and Local Government made a commitment to providing up to £50 million until March 2015 to help make neighbourhood planning a success. As one of the organisations delivering the ‘Supporting Communities and Neighbourhoods in Planning’ programme this year we look forward to hearing more about how government intends to carry forward this commitment and to exploring how The Glass-House can work with DCLG and other partners to continue to support community led design and planning within our new National Planning Policy Framework.