Briefing the new NPPF

I was asked to speak to one of our regional groups (HIOWLGA – don’t ask me to pronounce it) last week. It’s a group of leaders and CExs and they wanted me to take them through the implications of the new NPPF / NPPG.

There is nothing like the polite attention of a room full of clever people to force a bit of introspection and reflection. What do I really think they should know about the NPPF ? And how important is it all really when compared to the intense gloom and doom over finances ?

I don’t think it’s good enough for the proper website, but I’ll pop it here in case anyone else finds something in it to reuse. One of the CEx told me afterwards that he had already been briefed on the NPPF, but compared to how I’d approached it there had been a veil of gauze over the issues. I think it was a compliment – at least that is how I took it.

Sorry there aren’t any speakers notes – the slides are fairly self-explanatory and I just took people through it in my customary manner. Lots of questions but I don’t think my answers were good enough to be worth setting out here.

Advertisements

Notes on the Housing Delivery Test and Action Plans

UPDATE – SEE COMMENT FOR IMPORTANT NOTE ON CAPPING

Ever since the Housing Delivery Test (HDT) was mooted in the “right homes in the right places” Housing White Paper we have been trying to get our heads round what is means in practice.

We have been nibbling away at this with pilot councils of various shapes and sizes for almost a year and we are a few weeks away from publishing our thoughts on how councils should respond to this new requirement. In advance of the “proper” versions here is what I have learned along the way.

Is the Housing Delivery Test a good thing ?

Continue reading

Reflections on the 2018 NPPF

As has become standard PAS supported a team of officials from MHCLG presenting a series of roadshows around the country throughout April and May 2018. We did 10 events, and spoke with about 450 people from 204 councils. This sort of gig provides plenty of sparky people with interesting points of view, as well as protracted periods of time sitting on trains reflecting on how it all stacks up for local government.

28011823868_39a74ee667_z

So, what follows are my own personal thoughts – and remember that all of this is a consultation at the moment so it very much represents this moment in time. And, of course, the issues that tend to come out in debate and discussion are the difficult, awkward ones which will make this list sound a bit negative. Those that know me will tell you I am a little ray of sunshine and I find negativity very difficult. Nontheless,  alongside the standard themes of “who is going to pay for all this ?” and “everyone is too busy to think about and deliver this change in a sensible way” are five big thoughts: Continue reading

Planning and the GDPR

I’ve been on a little voyage with the GDPR. Originally I argued that we needed to do a quick “heads up” on the key points for planners. There was (to be honest) a little bit of humming and aahing about whether planning was “special” enough to deserve something sector-specific, but then in the end it was agreed that we were. Just something “quick and dirty”, so off I went.

Thanks to lots of planners who asked me questions, thanks to the ICO and MHCLG, thanks to Umbreen and the ALBPO TS group, and thanks to Cheshire West & Chester we will be making something public in the next week or so that I hope will be a first step towards a practitioners guide. We can then evolve it as questions get addressed and we make joint decisions about how to behave in the grey areas.

For now, though, and in advance of the official, signed-off version I thought I’d give you my own thoughts on all this.  Continue reading

IR35 and agency Planners

[13th Sept – this post was edited to make it clear that the IR35 changes are in the past – it is the impact of the changes that are still being felt]

There are changes afoot. IR35 (also known as off-payroll) rules changed this year and it will affect people who have formed their own one-man bands to sell themselves to planning departments. The short version is that the employer now needs to decide whether a worker is “in” or “out” and there are tax implications (and potential back-tax implications) that flow from this.

This only the latest in a series of changes of this kind, and there is a broader debate about fairness that I’m not interested in right now. There is also the issue about overall Planning capacity that I’m not going to go into either. My point is – what will the impact of this change be on rates ?

Continue reading

Reflections on the Housing White Paper

We finished our event series on the HWP yesterday, and before the memory starts to fade I thought I’d try to set out my thoughts. This is a personal reflection rather than the FAQ (and member briefing) on the HWP that we have separately promised to make.

What the HWP means for Local Plans

Most obviously the HWP disrupts the local plan system in three ways Continue reading

20% reduction in subsidy

I was asked the other day whether I thought the proposed 20% increase in planning fees would lead to increased resources in planning departments. It was a live interview, so my innate grumpiness and cynicism meant that I answered in the negative. Since then I have been thinking about that question a bit more deeply, so I thought I would unpack my thoughts on it and see if I would answer differently today.

The fee increase

A quick summary then. DCLG have written a “dear CEx” letter to all planning authorities, offering them a deal. In this letter they say that councils can charge an extra 20% on top of the nationally set planning fees if they can demonstrate that this extra income is spent on planning services. The proposal is an offer of a voluntary ring-fence to councils. Most people I know have accepted it, and will work out the details as they go – although I’ve also heard that some councils are turning it down.  Continue reading