No shortage of Christmas gifts from the policymakers, by Richard Garlick

As 2014 draws to a close, commentators will invariably be drawn to making predictions about what the new year will bring.

Planning has itself been devoting a fair bit of time to that, as will become evident when our first 2014 edition is published in early January.

But as is so often the case, the last weeks of the year have been crammed with announcements. Over the past seven days alone, we have seen the publication of the national policy statement for national transport networks and the planning inspector’s report on the Further Alterations to the London Plan.

The annual rush is partly prompted by the need to meet Christmas deadlines that politicians and officials have imposed on themselves earlier in the year. But the emergence of so many documents at a time when most people are winding down for a break means that they often do not get examined as closely as they would be at other times.

Thankfully, Planning’s correspondants are not allowing the prospect of a cosy fortnight of festivities to water down their scrutiny of the key documents.

In this, the first of our new-style weekly editions, Bryan Johnston distils the key messages for Boris Johnson from the inspector’s report on the Further Alterations to the London Plan.

Meanwhile, planning lawyer Simon Ricketts examines the recent changes to national planning policy with regard to section 106 planning obligations.

One aspect of this, the removal of the requirement for developers of small sites in most areas to make affordable housing and tariff-style section 106 contributions, has been widely covered.

But the new credit that removes the requirement for affordable housing contributions to be made by schemes that are reusing or replacing vacant (but not abandoned) buildings has had less coverage. Ricketts outlines some of the key questions that those working with the new credit will need to ask.

As mentioned earlier, this is the first of our new style of weekly editions. Previously, our approach with the weekly was simply to present all of the material that we put out in the course of the previous seven days. Readers have told us, however, that they want something different from their weekly edition.

So from now on, the weekly will be made up of comment, analysis and in-depth features, rather than repeating news reports that you have been sent previously. For those that value the ability to catch up by receiving news weekly rather than daily, the weekly edition will still include a concise summary of the ten most important stories of the week. We hope you find it useful.

The next weekly edition, containing our 2015 preview, will appear on January 2, after a one-week break for Christmas. Season’s greetings, and a Happy New Year, to all our readers.

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