National Planning Policy Framework called into question

Jonathan James runs a flagship Budgens in Soham

The National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) lacks teeth and is failing to reach local councils, a leading planning consultant has warned.

The claim comes two weeks after East Cambridgeshire District Council waved through plans for an out-of-town supermarket in Soham, where leading indie retailer Jonathan James has a flagship Budgens in the town centre.

The development was given the go-ahead despite recommendations it should be rejected because it was contrary to the NPPF.

“The Soham decision raises a wider question as to whether the NPPF has any teeth and whether the government is serious in its desire to protect town centres,” said Julian Sutton, regional director for Signet Planning.

“There has been much rhetoric regarding the wish to protect town centres. Ultimately, the government needs to ensure this message is reaching locally elected members and local decision makers to ensure that they understand national planning objectives and attach weight to the NPPF policies.”

He added: “There seems little point in having an NPPF if it can be dismissed without proper justification.”