Buckinghamshire Council raises concerns about the Government’s proposed changes to the National Planning Policy Framework, and the National Model Design Code

On 25th March, the Council responded to the government’s consultation on the National Planning Policy Framework and National Model Design Code and have asked government to reconsider some changes that it feels will have a negative impact on Buckinghamshire.

Article 4 directions enable the Secretary of State or the local planning authority to withdraw specified permitted development rights across a defined area. They are sometimes used to limit small-scale unsympathetic changes in conservation areas, for example. The Council is very concerned about proposed limits on the scope for making Article 4 Directions, which would constrain the Council’s ability to protect the vitality of our Town Centres, and to control Homes of Multiple Occupation where appropriate.

The Council agrees that high-quality open spaces can be multi-function in terms of sport, physical activity, nature and climate change. We highlighted however that sometimes public access can conflict with ecological aims, and suggested more clarity about need for the primary function of the space to be given priority.

The council supports the governments aims to achieve well-designed places. We highlighted the need for development to improve the places, and raised some doubt about the degree to which ‘beauty’ can be assessed through numerically-based policies.

We asked for clarity about the status of the National Model Design Code, and the status of any existing design policy and guidance which we feel should be retained until replaced with new guidance.

We also raised concerns about the urban approach within the National Model Design Code, which we feel would have unintended consequences if applied throughout Buckinghamshire. We also highlighted the need to take a proportionate approach to community engagement.

We supported the need for additional tree planting, not only along streets, but in other public and private spaces.

We asked for more clarity around climate change and flooding, and the definition of setting in relation to Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

To read our full response, download the Buckinghamshire Council consultation response on the proposed amendments to the National Planning Policy Framework.