The National Planning Policy Framework
This new national policy is the biggest series of changes for thirty years. The Government's attitude was that the system had been overloaded with documentation (1200+ pages) and developers had argued that the process for approving new development was too slow and holding back growth. There are also concerns that England needs to boost house building to support a growing and ageing population - although that is surprising considering that planning permission already exists for approximately 300,000 homes. The Ipswich Society agrees that the planning system needs sensible reform. However we do not accept the assumption that planning has been an obstacle to growth; the facts don't support the arguments. Even as a regulatory tool we see over 80% of planning applications granted permission and over 30% of planning appeals are successful. Furthermore, less than 1% of planning applications take more than a year to be determined.
The new policy makes it clear that the Local Plan is the keystone of the planning edifice. Planning Minister Greg Clark MP summed up by saying, "It is the end of top down targets .. .It now puts power into the hands of local people." The policy makes explicit that the presumption in favour of development must work through, not against local plans. A 'brownfield first' policy has been introduced which insists that town halls actively encourage the recycling of 'brownfield' land in urban areas before fresh planning permission can be granted on 'greenfield' sites. The policy includes a 'town centre first' provision that will require councils to promote development of shopping areas in town centres ahead of new out- of-town retail parks. (Rather late in the day!)
There is a clear mention that "well designed buildings and places can improve the lives of people and communities" and local planning authorities should have local design review arrangements in place.
Local authorities with a good track record of allocating land for housing must ear-mark a five-year supply, plus 5%. The policy also allows councils to protect back gardens and ensures that playing fields continue to benefit from the same protection they had done previously. The new document also recognises the intrinsic value of the countryside (which had not been included in the first draft). Designated beauty spots such as National Parks have been promised "robust protections", as has Green Belt land.
This brief summary may be helpful to Society members but the full National Policy Framework can be accessed via this link.
Local Planning Matters
The recession has reduced planning applications to such an extent that the April 2012 meeting of the Conservation Advisory Panel, on which the Society is well represented, was cancelled, unparalleled in its 37 year history. However, there are a number of issues, responses and decisions which will interest members of the Society - as follows.
Orwell Quay. The re-paving scheme continues, using Section 106 monies (from developers). Largely York Stone paving will be used. The fence across the quay at Neptune Marina will be replaced by five rising bollards. The wish of the Conservation Panel to have trees in a line was rejected by Associated British Ports.
Derby Road station. The application to demolish the station buildings and replace them with a care home was refused by IBC because it would be over-development of the site and would impact on the residents of Stanley Avenue. There were also noise considerations.
Braziers Wood Academy, Gainsborough. This is a County Council application which has been rubber stamped by the Borough. It is a bland modern H-shaped plan with a community assembly hall in the 'horizontal' link. The Society really can't have any objections although it is another lost chance to build a good school in Ipswich. It underlines the loss we suffered when the County closed its architecture department.
The Old Rep, Tower Street. Greene King, the owners, wish to carry out refurbishments which will improve the exterior by removing the fascia and canopy and replacing them with simple letters fixed to the wall.
Thurleston Hall cricket stadium, Henley Road: "children's home (20 children aged 7 -11) to include onsite education and therapy facilities". IBC has granted permission to a grim institution despite disapproval from the Society and the Conservation Advisory Panel.
70 Fore Street: "change of use from bank to microbrewery". Regrettably, after attempts to ensure a suitably designed new building, the owner has decided to put his micro brewery into the old Lloyds Bank building on the corner of Fore Street and Salthouse Street.
Local List. The list of notable buildings outside Conservation Areas has been completed and the owners corresponded with. There have been fewer than ten refusals by owners. Their reasons are unclear - perhaps dislike of being on a public list or a fear of not being able to carry out appropriate developments and maintenance.