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Knowledge: Recent legislation

BY SUSANNAH CHARLTON
It can be hard to keep up with legislative changes — this roundup points you in the right directions.

National Planning Policy Framework (March 2012)
The NPPF has condensed 1500 pages into 50 pages of broad-brush policies. Consultation is continuing about how these policies will work in practice. The legislation:

• Establishes a presumption in favour of sustainable development and core planning principles (paras 7 & 17);
• Requires good design, and design review by local planning authorities (paras 56–63);
• Requires Local Plans to take account of climate change, and particularly flood risk (para 99/100);
• Promotes the creation and enhancement of green infrastructure (para 114);
• Sees the Local Plan as setting strategic priorities and planning guidance for each area (paras 165–8);
• Explicitly endorses the importance of protecting the character of the area, good landscaping, streetscape, and green and other public space.

It should encourage quality landscaping, provide opportunities for landscape architects to participate in design review panels, and support the importance of green infrastructure. Understanding the Local Plan will be crucial to ensuring that any landscape development meets the requirements of the local authority. http://bit.ly/XPxKwa

Localism Bill (Nov 2011)
Changes to regional and neighbourhood planning have resulted in a more streamlined but therefore less strategic approach. This could lead to the erosion of local landscape character through incremental development.

Regional strategies have been abolished, policies created to strengthen local consultation and decision-making, and the right of local communities to develop established. Usefully, the act establishes a duty to co-operate in the planning of sustainable development.

The bill as enacted: http://bit.ly/U0BvgV There is a Plain English guide to the bill here: http://bit.ly/UfxZmk

Natural Environment White Paper (June 2011)
An update on progress was published in July 2012. Positive developments include:
• Establishment of 41 Local Nature Partnerships;
• An extra £750,000 to support landscape-scale partnerships that narrowly missed-out on Nature Improvement Area (NIA) funding; • The Green Food Project report published;
• Natural England fact files for England’s 159 Landscape Character Areas;
• A new report on reducing peat use and responsible sourcing of all growing media
• Initial findings of the Ecosystem Markets Task Force • Development of the national biodiversity network. http://bit.ly/UIXUA0

Flood & Water Management Act (2010)
Following consultation with the Landscape Institute, the Secretary of State has issued revised guidelines on how a local flood authority can contribute to sustainable development, potentially useful support for GI schemes. http://bit.ly/SZIvzt

Schedule 3 of the Flood and Water Management Act (2010) covers proposals for increased uptake of sustainable drainage systems (SuDS) in England including the requirements for SuDS Approving Bodies in Unitary or County Councils and National Standards for the design, construction, operation and maintenance of SuDS. Following consultation last year, Government is still developing these proposals and the secondary legislation needed to implement them.

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