In the new NPPF the Government tells planners to recognise the need for minerals and the often small-scale production of building and roofing stone.
The Mineral Products Association (MPA) has welcomed the revised National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) published on 24 July. They say it recognises that a sufficient supply of minerals is essential to provide the infrastructure, buildings, energy and goods that society relies upon.
The MPA has been pressing Government to recognise that minerals and mineral products, and the industry that supplies them, provide the foundations for the economy and our quality of life. Supply cannot be assumed. The revised NPPF reinforces the need for an effective policy framework to ensure these essential raw materials can be delivered through the mineral planning system.
At a time when supplies are becoming strained by increasing demands, the need to ensure a steady and adequate supply of aggregates and industrial minerals has arguably never been stronger, says MPA, particularly in light of the Government’s focus on the need for more housing and infrastructure.
The importance of a resilient supply chain of raw materials to ensure the security of sustainable mineral supply over the medium and long term, which was identified in the recently published Industrial Strategy Construction Sector Deal, has now been reinforced by the policies contained in the revised NPPF.
Mark Russell, MPA Executive Director of Planning, says: “The Mineral Products Association broadly welcomes the publication of the revised National Planning Policy Framework. While this understandably focuses on Government’s priorities around housing, in doing so it is telling that the NPPF also recognises that the sufficient supply of minerals to provide the infrastructure, buildings, energy and goods that the country needs is essential.
"The continuing need for mineral planning authorities to plan for a steady and adequate supply of aggregates and industrial minerals reinforces the fact that supply cannot be assumed, but needs to be planned, monitored and managed to ensure that the right minerals are made available in the right place and at the right time to support Government’s priorities around housing and infrastructure."
Sections most relevant to natural building stones are Section 205 and 206. They read as follows:
205. When determining planning applications, great weight should be given to the benefits of mineral extraction, including to the economy65. In considering proposals for mineral extraction, minerals planning authorities should:
a) as far as is practical, provide for the maintenance of landbanks of non-energy minerals from outside National Parks, the Broads, Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and World Heritage Sites, scheduled monuments and conservation areas;
b) ensure that there are no unacceptable adverse impacts on the natural and historic environment, human health or aviation safety, and take into account the cumulative effect of multiple impacts from individual sites and/or from a number of sites in a locality;
c) ensure that any unavoidable noise, dust and particle emissions and any blasting vibrations are controlled, mitigated or removed at source66, and establish appropriate noise limits for extraction in proximity to noise sensitive properties;
d) not grant planning permission for peat extraction from new or extended sites;
e) provide for restoration and aftercare at the earliest opportunity, to be carried out to high environmental standards, through the application of appropriate conditions. Bonds or other financial guarantees to underpin planning conditions should only be sought in exceptional circumstances;
f) consider how to meet any demand for small-scale extraction of building stone at, or close to, relic quarries needed for the repair of heritage assets, taking account of the need to protect designated sites; and
g) recognise the small-scale nature and impact of building and roofing stone quarries, and the need for a flexible approach to the duration of planning permissions reflecting the intermittent or low rate of working at many sites.
206. Local planning authorities should not normally permit other development proposals in Mineral Safeguarding Areas if it might constrain potential future use for mineral working.
Historic England's overview of the changes:
- The structure of the 2018 NPPF differs markedly from the 2012 edition, bringing forward the chapters on plan- and decision-making, and on housing. A new chapter has been added on ‘making efficient use of land’.
- A distinction is drawn throughout between strategic policies (policies and site allocations which address strategic priorities, in local plans prepared jointly or independently by local planning authorities, or in spatial development strategies), and non-strategic policies (in either local or neighbourhood plans).
- Reference is now made to policies maps rather than proposals maps (and key diagrams for broad locations for development). The emphasis on up-to-date plans is also pronounced, as is the emphasis on joint working, and the increased reference to the role of statutory and non-statutory consultees.
- In addition to new policy areas, there have also been many detailed changes to policy wording since the 2012 edition: the new NPPF warrants a thorough reading. Some of the key changes are flagged chapter-by-chapter, below, but it should be noted that this list is not definitive.
- The majority of the 2018 document has not changed since the consultation draft, but particular areas of change in the final version include:
- Clarification that the NPPF should be read as a whole, including footnotes and annexes (as an aside, there are now 70 footnotes – compared to 59 in the consultation draft, and 41 in the 2012 NPPF – some containing text that was previously in the main body of the document)
- Clarification as to when viability assessments should accompany planning applications
- Changes to the policy on bringing forward small housing sites (now includes mediumsized sites, and sets a lower overall target)
- Removal of the requirement for entry-level exception sites to be outside existing settlements, and a new requirement that they should not exceed 5% of the size of the existing settlement; additionally, they should not be permitted in National Parks, Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONBs), the Broads, or Green Belt. There are also amendments to the policy on larger-scale development, to address its location, required infrastructure and services, and quality (the latter with specific reference to Garden City principles)
- New reference to planning for the requirements of different employment sectors
- Amendments to town centre policy, emphasising the need to respond to rapid changes in retail and leisure, but removing the expectation that primary and secondary frontages will be identified
- The addition of further detail on the need to provide for large scale transport facilities such as ports and airports, and amended references to general aviation airfields
- Amendments to allow maximum parking standards where they optimise the density of development in central or accessible locations, and reference to overnight lorry parking facilities
- New text on the proactive role for planning in land assembly
- The addition of a new introductory paragraph to the design chapter, emphasising the importance of high quality buildings and places, and policy to ensure that the quality of approved development is not diminished between permission and completion
- Clarification that exceptional circumstances for the alteration of Green Belt boundaries need to be fully evidenced and justified
- Amendments to align the NPPF with the 25 Year Environment Plan, and to clarify that the existing protection for local wildlife sites is maintained
- Reinstatement of the reference to the ‘highest status of protection’ in relation to National Parks, AONBs and the Broads, and an amendment to the definition of irreplaceable habitats to include ancient (formerly ‘aged’) and veteran trees
- An amendment to the transitional arrangements for spatial development strategies.
- The summary of consultation responses also suggests that some of the issues raised in response to the draft NPPF may be addressed further in the Planning Practice Guidance (e.g. plan-making process, retail policy, the role of planning in reducing crime, high density development, design, compensatory improvements to Green Belt, and the assessment of the impact of proposed development on the significance of heritage assets).
- Heritage policy remains largely unchanged, with some amendments since the consultation draft, in light of the responses received (discussed further in the full document, which you can download here).