Fancy some bedtime reading on these dark, cold winter nights?

It may not be as exciting as a J.K. Rowling or as racy as Fifty Shades of Grey but the National Planning Policy Framework is more likely to affect all of our lives. 

Or it should do. 

Presented to parliament in July by James Brokenshire, Secretary of State For Housing, Communities and Local Government, it gave planners and developers greater freedom to add vibrancy to our cities. 

It stated that: "Local planning authorities should approach decisions on proposed development in a positive and creative way. 

"They should work proactively with applicants to secure developments that will improve the economic, social and environmental conditions of the area. 

"Decision-makers at every level should seek to approve applications for sustainable development where possible." 

Of course, it rightly states that there should be a stronger emphasis on high-quality design of new homes and places but, if these criteria are met, local authorities should react like the man from Del Monte and "say yes". 

The framework was a response to a stodgy planning system which means that attempts to attract investment and create jobs were too often being stymied. 

However, recent evidence suggests that not all of those involved in examining planning applications in Derby have taken it to heart. 

Last month, permission was refused on the eyesore site which homes the derelict Derby Fireplaces Ltd on the Wyvern. 

Clowes Developments and London Metric want to demolish the building and make way for a Marks & Spencer, Nando's and Starbucks. 

The plan was rejected on the grounds that the already congested road system would not be able to cope with extra traffic. 

Nobody would disagree that the Wyvern is congested but there needs to be a keenness to work towards a solution rather than potentially abandon the development.

Other decisions seem to fly in the face of the guiding principles of the National Planning Policy Framework. 

For example, the refusal of an application by Godwin Developments for an eight-storey building of 77 apartments on Agard Street which remains a derelict site on the ring road as does the Speeds site on Uttoxeter New Road which Aldi had wanted. 

Final decisions have not yet been made on a 17-storey plan by Godwin on the ring road or Elevate Property Group's application to develop a six-story building with 180 apartments on Liversage Street but both have been subject to criticism from various quarters. 

Of course, it is accepted that developers have to work within the entire National Planning Policy Framework and the policies of local development plans but this can be achieved at the same time as focusing on the economic needs of the community. 

There should be fewer hurdles in the way of developments and impetus to help applicants succeed.

When selling the city at conferences at home and abroad, its leaders maintain that Derby is "open for business" but what do they mean? 

Is our culture really "can do" as opposed to "can't do"? 

In the property community, we fear a lot of key projects, such as Derby city centre build-to-rent residential schemes, are not going to happen because of blockages caused by conservation groups or congestion worries. 

If they are true to their words, councillors need to be inspiring planning officers to try their hardest to find solutions otherwise developers will be looking towards other cities which respond more positively. 

Especially in the current uncertain economic times, Derby needs to be known for being a can-do city where business and people are at the heart of future strategy. 

Let those with a stake in the city's future really prove that Derby Does It.

Stephen Salloway
Contact Details:
Tel 01332 298000

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