The National Planning Policy Revisions Explained
On 22nd December 2022, the Government issued proposed revisions to the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF), a document that provides national planning policies to be used by local planning authorities in England when determining planning applications. It is also a framework to be relied upon when producing local plans.
The consultation of the proposed revisions runs until 2nd March 2023, with the implementation of these changes to occur shortly after, in Spring 2023. The consultation is to provide people with the opportunity to influence how the government can deliver its levelling-up plans.
We have provided a summary of the proposed revisions and the potential impacts these could have on the planning system.
What are the Aims of the Proposed Revisions?
The reason behind the proposed changes to the NPPF has been summarised by the Government as follows:
- make clear how housing figures should be derived and applied so that communities can respond to local circumstances;
- address issues in the operation of the housing delivery and land supply tests;
- tackle problems of slow build-out;
- encourage local planning authorities to support the role of community-led groups in delivering affordable housing on exception sites;
- set more explicit expectations around planning for older peoples’ lodging;
- promote more beautiful homes, including through gentle density;
- make sure that food security considerations are factored into planning decisions that affect farmland;
- and enable new methods for demonstrating local support for onshore wind development.’
What are the Proposed Revisions to the NPPF?
Housing Supply & Delivery
One proposed revision to the NPPF is that strategic policies should provide for objectively assessed housing needs unless specified exceptions apply. One such exception is where meeting an area’s housing need would mean building at densities that are ‘significantly out of character with the existing area’. A further exception is where there is ‘clear evidence of past over-delivery [of housing] against an area’s requirement.
The requirement for a local plan to be ‘sound’ has also changed. A plan no longer needs to be ’justified’, and local authorities need only meet objectively assessed needs ‘so far as possible’, with the requirement to satisfy the unmet needs from neighbouring authorities also proposed for removal.
Under the proposed changes, local planning authorities do not need to demonstrate a five-year housing land supply deliverable if the housing requirement set out in strategic policies is less than five years old. Also, the ‘presumption in favour of sustainable development’ does not apply to areas where a neighbourhood plan has been made within the past five years. There is also an emphasis on providing housing for older people and people with specialist care needs.
It is proposed that the national standard methodology currently used for calculating housing requirements will be an advisory starting point. However, this is nothing new, as this is already confirmed in National Planning Policy Guidance. The methodology is proposed to be amended to incorporate an uplift for local planning authorities in the 20 most populated cities and urban centres to direct growth into these centres, ‘unless it would conflict with policies within this Framework and legal obligations.’. There is no longer a requirement for local planning authorities to include an appropriate buffer when calculating housing needs.
The proposed revisions enhance Green Belt protection. It is proposed that local planning authorities are not required to review and alter Green Belt boundaries, even if this would be the only way of meeting its assessed housing needs over the plan period. This would, in turn, reduce the need for LPAs to release Green Belt sites to meet local housing needs.
Greater weight is given to securing energy efficiency improvements to existing buildings. Support is proposed for applications that seek to repower or extend the life of existing renewable energy development.
Stronger emphasis is proposed on securing ‘beautiful design’ within new developments and the requirement for local planning authorities to bring forward design codes.
There is a specific reference to applying mansard roofs into new developments to increase densities, providing they harmonise with the original building and street scene.
The focus on building beautiful and the importance of positively prepared design codes feature heavily in the proposed alterations.
If you want to know how the proposed revisions might affect you, please get in touch with us today, and we would be happy to discuss them with you.