Town and Country Planning

Draft Revised National Planning Policy Framework 5th March 2018

5 March 2018 | Planning Policy Updates

The Draft Revised National Planning Policy Framework.

The long awaited Draft Revision of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) was published today (5th March). Prime Minister, Theresa May, gave a lengthy speech on the launch of the document, which reflected the significance the Government is placing on the housing crisis. This is conveyed in the consultation document wherein the whole tenor emphasises that delivering housing is a high priority for the government. Importantly, the speech also indicated that the planning profession is very much part of the solution to the housing crisis.

A full copy of the document can be obtained here

The consultation document is seeking views until 10th May 2018.

A range of other documents have also been released including 'Draft Planning Guidance for Viability', details of the Housing Delivery Test '(Draft Measurement Rule Book)' and 'Supporting housing delivery through developer contributions'.

The key changes to the existing NPPF are summarised below;

Revised Structure

The revised document is divided into 17 topic based chapters providing a clear overview of each topic related area. This has inevitably resulted in changes to paragraph numbers, for example the presumption in favour of sustainable development is now para 11.

Housing provision

Emphasis throughout the document is placed upon ways to improve housing delivery to reach the target of 300,000 houses per annum. It is noted however that the details for the expected standardised methodology for calculating local housing need has not yet been published.

With reference to first time buyers, Paragraph 72 reflects the announcement at Budget 2017 that the Government would consult on allowing the development of exception sites to provide entry-level homes suitable for first-time buyers, where a local need is identified.

Para 73 reinforces the importance of new settlements confirming that the supply of large numbers of new homes can often be best achieved through planning for larger scale development, such as new settlements.

Reference to density, design and affordable homes, making the most of town centre sites and small sites are provided throughout the document.

Greater emphasis on a plan led system

Plans have been provided with a greater role in the decision making process, emphasising the Government’s intention for the English planning system to be a plan-led one. Para 23 confirms that local plans need to be reviewed at least once every five years.

The Green Belt

Paras 132-146 establishes that Green Belt policy has been tightened further, however this tightening has been tempered by the reference to entry level homes. Para 144 confirms that providing such homes would not cause substantial harm to openness and would meet an identified need, they would not be considered inappropriate development.

Viability Assessments

The viability assessment paragraphs of the current NPPF have been revised. New para 58 confirms that when development proposals accord with all relevant policies of an up to date development plan, there will be no need to submit a viability assessment.

Building a strong and competitive economy

Paras 82-83 make more explicit the importance of supporting business growth. The rural economy section has a new policy at paragraph 85 on the potential need for planning policies and decisions to accommodate sites for local business and community needs outside existing settlements, in ways which minimise the impact of such sites. This approach reflects the fact that the availability of sites to accommodate appropriate development in rural areas may be limited, particularly within existing settlements.

Town centres

Paragraph 86d clarifies that in allocating sites to meet the need for town centre uses, policies should look at least ten years ahead (though not necessarily over the full plan period, if longer, given uncertainty in forecasting long-term retail trends). It also provides that town centre boundaries should be kept under review so that identified needs for town centre uses can be accommodated, recognising that it is difficult for retail forecasts to look beyond ten years. Where town centres are in decline, the text (at paragraph 86g) has been expanded to provide a clearer policy approach.

Changes have also been made to policy on planning applications for town centre uses. Paragraph 87 amends the ‘sequential approach’ to planning applications, so that out of centre sites should be considered only if suitable town centre or edge of centre sites are unavailable or not expected to become available within a reasonable period.

With regard to office development, outside town centres, the requirement to undertake and submit an impact assessment is proposed to be removed.

HPPs opinion on the proposed amendments

HPP is generally of the opinion that there is no real significant change to the document, however it is appreciated that the planning reform process is not yet complete. We are awaiting the new permitted development rights in addition to more effective ways of increasing the supply of housing.

On a positive note, the government's reinforcement of the importance of new settlements in meeting the need for new homes supports HPPs proposals at Buckover Village and Sharpness.

The requirement to review local plans every five years is a positive way forward given that such plans are outdated quite quickly.

Where applicable, HPP will be updating their clients on the smaller relevant changes.

Go to top