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National Planning Policy Framework Update

National Planning Policy Framework Update

The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities published an updated National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) on 19 December 2023.

The substance of the updates follows on from the recent Levelling-up and Regeneration Act, and the Government’s policy agenda to support and facilitate new development.

A major element of the revisions relates to facilitating housing development, and to encourage Local Planning Authorities to maintain up to date Development Plans. There is now no need for Local Planning Authorities to annually update their five-year land supply, so long as there is an extant Local Plan which has identified the five-year supply. Likewise, the 5% and 10% buffer requirements are removed for those LPAs who are delivering housing in accordance with a current Development Plan. The 20% buffer will however remain for those Authorities whose Plans are more than 5 years old and are delivering numbers of below 85% of requirements.

Local Planning Authorities with an emerging Development Plan made up to an advanced stage, and with a settled allocations and policy map will only need to demonstrate a four-year supply until 18 December 2025.

The Government has placed emphasis on both protection of the environment and good design in the revised Policy. There is now no requirement on Local Planning Authorities to review or alter Green Belt boundaries during Plan making process, unless they consider it appropriate to do so. The revised NPPF also emphasises the role of beauty and good placemaking in Plan formulation and general development control decision making. Emphasis is placed on ensuring that new development is of a high standard, and such standard is maintained over prolonged construction timeframes. 

Increasing weight has been afforded to Neighbourhood Plans and therefore the concept of community involvement in the planning system. In situations where the presumption in favour of sustainability applies to applications involving the provision of housing, the adverse impact of allowing development that conflicts with the neighbourhood plan is likely to significantly and demonstrably outweigh the benefits, provided the following apply:

a) the Neighbourhood Plan became part of the Development Plan five years or less before the date on which the decision is made (previously two years or less); and

b) the Neighbourhood Plan contains policies and allocations to meet its identified housing requirement.

Some Industry commentators have already criticised these reviews as being too cautious, and indeed citing that they may constrain delivery rather than facilitate the Government’s target of 300,000 new dwellings per annum. This topic will likely become more topical as we head towards the forthcoming General Election.

Mark Dixon

Please contact Mark Dixon on 01904 928727

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