How does the UK Government’s National Planning Policy Framework favourably affect land investing?
The new rules from the NPPF, published in 2012, provide a kinder, gentler approach to growth. Cooperative efforts to satisfy environmental goals are recommended.
The UK government’s booklet on the new National Planning Policy Framework, published by the Department for Communities and Local Government in 2012, identifies that first and foremost, “the purpose of planning is to help achieve sustainable development.”
Should the use of the word “sustainable” send off warning bells to investors and businesses in the development sector? Probably not. Instead what the plan is meant to do is empower local communities in helping them build competitive economies, which clearly are part of the sustainability equation. Economic growth often requires some shifting of land to development, or at the very least allows for repurposing of existing properties for something new and needed.
The NPPF stresses many things that should cheer existing residents, local officials and strategic land investors and developers alike:
• Enable local creativity in how a community is fashioned to develop new residential housing stock.
• Encourage economic development as a priority.
• Use high quality design, including the best thinking on affordable sustainability.
• Promote urban vitality concurrent with supporting the sustainability of rural communities.
• Promote mixed-use development.
• Conserve heritage sites in proportion to their significance.
• Encourage growth that makes optimal use of active transport, including walking, bicycling and public conveyances.
With a clear understanding that these are the objectives, investors and communities should be able to come up with solutions that are mutually beneficial. Already the NPPF and the Localism Act, which as the name implies distributes power away from regional planners, are credited with improving the rate at which councils assemble local plans. More than 100 local authorities were working with front-runner communities on neighbourhood planning by mid-2012.
The most important benefits to land investors are the speed of approvals and greater power at the local level. Authorities who are now charged with approving zoning changes and related projects have a far keener appreciation of the needs for housing and commercial development in their towns. They understand the imperatives of employers who need people living in close proximity to their workplaces. They might also recognize where certain sections of dedicated greenbelt lands fail to achieve the green objective, and might be rezoned in innovative ways that meet both development and environment goals. And where to-let housing might be needed more than owner-occupied structures, then that may be what is built.
Land investors looking for capital growth are likely to work in partnerships with other investors and land acquisition and development specialists. Persons interested in joining such partnerships should speak with an independent financial advisor; their mission is to assess all investment vehicles relative to the individual’s ultimate financial outcomes.