National Planning Policy Framework sets new rules for rural retail approvals

Changes in the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF), launched last week, are relevant to garden centres and nurseries that want to build, according to Malcolm Scott Consultants.

Planning should operate to encourage and not impede sustainable growth, said Malcolm Scott. Significant weight should be placed on the need to support economic growth and policies should support projects in rural areas to create jobs.

Local and neighbourhood plans should support the sustainable growth and expansion of business in rural areas, both through the conversion of existing buildings and well designed new building. Plans should promote the diversification of land-based rural businesses.

The NPPF retains the sequential approach to site selection - with retail in town-centre, edge-of-centre, then out-of-centre sites.

But Scott said: "Significantly, this approach should not be applied to applications for small-scale rural offices or development, although 'small scale' is not defined."

A retail impact assessment should be required for retail developments (usually more than 2,500sq m) outside town centres, said the NPPF.

The framework maintains the stance that inappropriate development in the green belt should not be approved except where there are very special circumstances.

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