A Very Important Government Document

If you are really keen on studying planning issues, you need to have a look at a government document.

It’s called “Planning Policy Statement 3 – Housing” and you can download it here (it’s about 800k).

Basically, as a district council we have to make sure that our own local policies and our own decisions on planning applications take into account what this document says.

Some of it sounds very good. For example:

“Achieving high quality housing

12. Good design is fundamental to the development of high quality new housing, which contributes to the creation of sustainable, mixed communities.

13. Reflecting policy in PPS1, good design should contribute positively to making places better for people. Design which is inappropriate in its context, or which fails to take the opportunities available for improving the character and quality of an area and the way it functions, should not be accepted.

14. Local Planning Authorities should develop a shared vision with their local communities of the type(s) of residential environments they wish to see and develop design policies that set out the quality of development that will be expected for the local area, aimed at:

? Creating places, streets and spaces which meet the needs of people, are visually attractive, safe, accessible, functional, inclusive, have their own distinctive identity and maintain and improve local character.

? Promoting designs and layouts which make efficient and effective use of land, including encouraging innovative approaches to help deliver high quality outcomes.

15. Local Planning Authorities should encourage applicants to bring forward sustainable and environmentally friendly new housing developments, including affordable housing developments, and in doing so should reflect the approach set out in the forthcoming PPS on climate change, including on the Code for Sustainable Homes.14

16. Matters to consider when assessing design quality include the extent to which the proposed development:

? Is easily accessible and well-connected to public transport and community facilities and services, and is well laid out so that all the space is used efficiently, is safe, accessible and user-friendly.

? Provides, or enables good access to, community and green and open amenity and recreational space (including play space) as well as private outdoor space such as residential gardens, patios and balconies.

? Is well integrated with, and complements, the neighbouring buildings and the local area more generally in terms of scale, density, layout and access.

? Facilitates the efficient use of resources, during construction and in use, and seeks to adapt to and reduce the impact of, and on, climate change.

? Takes a design-led approach to the provision of car-parking space, that is well-integrated with a high quality public realm and streets that are pedestrian, cycle and vehicle friendly.

? Creates, or enhances, a distinctive character that relates well to the surroundings and supports a sense of local pride and civic identity.

? Provides for the retention or re-establishment of the biodiversity within residential environments.

17. Particularly where family housing is proposed, it will be important to ensure that the needs of children are taken into account and that there is good provision of recreational areas, including private gardens, play areas and informal play space. These should be welldesigned, safe, secure and stimulating areas with safe pedestrian access.

Here’s the important bit on housing density that our council officers sometimes quote to us:

Local Planning Authorities should develop housing density policies having regard to:

? The spatial vision and strategy for housing development in their area, including the level of housing demand and need and the availability of suitable land in the area.
? The current and future level and capacity of infrastructure, services and facilities such as public and private amenity space, in particular green and open space.
? The desirability of using land efficiently and reducing, and adapting to, the impacts of climate change.
? The current and future levels of accessibility, particularly public transport accessibility.
? The characteristics of the area, including the current and proposed mix of uses.
? The desirability of achieving high quality, well-designed housing having regard to the considerations in paragraph 16.

47. Reflecting the above, Local Planning Authorities may wish to set out a range of densities across the plan area rather than one broad density range although 30 dwellings per hectare (dph) net should be used as a national indicative minimum to guide policy development and decision-making, until local density policies are in place.Where Local Planning Authorities wish to plan for, or agree to, densities below this minimum, this will need to be justified, having regard to paragraph 46.

  • Some of the points do sound very good indeed but I would be surprised if all the recommendations in the Government report were taken note of when looking at some of the monstrosities that are built in Rayleigh. The block of flats opposite the station seems to have very little open space or even adequate parking facilities. Also some of the flats being built seem to have the hallmark of sixties Harlow rather than be pleasing to the eye. Maybe the planning department should cut out some of the recommendations in the report and pin them to the office wall, when considering applications from money grabbing developers who think that they can walk all over the Council and residents!

  • Mike, We’ve put this item here as a useful resource for residents interested in planning applications.

    As for councillors – they really need to have a copy of the whole document at their elbow when they are reading officers reports, to see if they agree with the officers interpretation of government policy.