On 29 December 2009 the Government published the long awaited and updated PPS 4 Planning for Sustainable Economic Growth which replaces the old PPS 4, PPS 5, PPS 6 and parts of PPS 7. A practice guidance on need, impact and the sequential approach was published on the same day.

The stated overarching objective of sustainable economic growth is more relevant today than at any time in the recent past so it remains to be seen whether the increased emphasis on positive planning and the promotion of new development will pay dividends in economic terms.

As anticipated, the "need test" has given way to a new impact test but the sequential test is retained and remains key in the determination of planning applications. Policy EC10 point two (which sets out the impact considerations against which planning applications for economic development will need to be assessed) makes clear that a more "holistic" view is to be taken with a wide range of positive and negative impact being taken into account.

Policy EC16 gives guidance on the impact assessment for applications which are not in a town centre and do not accord with an up to date development plan. Again the broader based impact assessment, combined with policy EC10 is likely to give encouragement to those who would promote sites which are less sequentially advantaged but which offer a range of positive benefits.