The Government is expected to publish the long awaited National Planning Policy Framework, better known as the NPPF, today. This publication follows an elaborate and very high profile consultation process and a number of delays. However, the date finally chosen seems both fitting and ironic.
Firstly, today is fitting, as 27 March is (quite) well-known in housing circles as the birthdate of Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, the modernist architect remembered fondly (and not so fondly) for trying to create buildings which represented their time in a functional way which reflected his interpretation of society. Take a look at the Seagram Building in New York and make up your own mind as to whether he succeeded.
If we are fortunate the NPPF has embraced at least part of this and stripped away the existing bureaucracy of planning regulation leaving just enough behind to allow communities to address their needs – in particular the desperate need in much of the country for more appropriate housing – and to preserve the existing aesthetic and culture of their locality.
The irony is perhaps more obvious to many landlords in England today (apologies to readers in Wales and Scotland but fortunately this bit doesn’t really apply to you). The NPPF’s measures to free us from Town Hall tyranny – in respect of new development – coincide with moves by more than one in ten relevant local authorities to drastically restrict the way in which landlords may use existing housing stock to provide homes.
Article Four Directions, those pernicious local orders dictating what kind of household may occupy a residential property, are spreading through England like an ill-conceived fashion restricting access to low cost housing in areas where it is very much in need.
As the headlines today will no-doubt be dominated by a mixture of cheers and sneers (depending on your viewpoint) aimed at the relaxation of planning restrictions. Is it too much to ask that as well as providing the means for much needed new housing in today’s NPPF, the Government also allows those of us trying to help meet housing need be permitted to do so in response to the needs of local demand?
Probably, but it’s always worth asking the question.
If you know of a new article four direction in your area, or believe that your local authority may be considering such a policy please add a comment to this post to let us know where.