PPS 4 Published

On 29 December 2009, with surprisingly little fanfare, the Government published the long awaited Planning Policy Statement 4: Planning for Sustainable Economic Growth (PPS). PPS 4 represents the government’s key planning policy aimed at achieving its overriding objective of sustainable economic growth.

The new PPS 4 is slimline policy document setting out a series of specific policies in respect of economic development. It replaces and consolidates previous planning guidance set out in PPG 4, PPG 5, PPS 6 and parts of PPS 7 and PPG 13 into a single policy document.

Economic development is defined as including all development within the B Use Class, public and community uses and main town centre uses.

The policies also apply to any development which either provides employment opportunities, generates wealth or generates economic output. It does not however apply to residential development.

PPS 4 seeks to differentiate between main Town Centre Uses and other forms of economic development.

Town Centre Uses are defined as including retail, leisure, entertainment and other recreational type uses, offices and art, tourism and cultural development.

The headline point arising from the PPS has been the abolition of the standalone “needs test” in respect of applications for planning permission for Town Centre Uses.

The PPS requires the consideration of five keys impacts comprising climate change, accessibility, design, economic and physical regeneration and impact on local employment.

The policy will maintain the strict control over applications for Town Centre Uses not in town centre locations.

The sequential and impact tests have been reinforced and the policy requires that all planning applications for Town Centre Uses not in an exiting town centre and not in accordance with an up to date development plan should be refused where the application does not comply with the requirements of the sequential test or if there is clear evidence that the proposal is likely to lead to significant adverse impact in respect of the five key impacts set out above.

The introduction of a far more structured policy for determination of applications for out of town centre applications is to be welcomed.  However it will be interesting to see how these tests are applied in practice to the first tranche of schemes to come forward.

PPS 4 is accompanied by a helpful practice guide, which whilst not planning policy, is intended to help developers and their professionals to interpret the polices of PPS 4 in respect of applications for Town Centre Uses.

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