The Government has today published the new National Planning
Policy Framework, replacing 44 previous PPSs, PPGs, Minerals
Planning Guidance, Circulars and Letters to Chief Planning Officers
with 50 pages of policy. The new NPPF takes effect
immediately, and is now a material consideration in the
determination of all new planning permissions.
The previous draft NPPF created controversy over its presumption
in favour of sustainable development, the perceived risk of loss of
protection for the Green Belt, changes to the way the five-year
housing land supply calculation was to be done and for fears that
the "town centre first" policy for new retail and office
developments had been undermined. The headlines in the final
NPPF on those topics are:
Definition of "Sustainable
Development": The NPPF has strengthened the
definition of Sustainable Development, incorporating wording from
the Brundtland report, and cross referring to the UK Sustainable
Presumption in favour of development:
Applications which accord with the development plan must be
approved without delay, and where the relevant development plan is
absent, silent or the relevant policies are out of date, planning
permission should be granted unless the adverse impacts of
development would "significantly and demonstrably outweigh the
benefits, when assessed against the policies in the Framework taken
as a whole; or specific policies in the Framework indicated that
development should be restricted".
Green Belt protection: Protection for
Green Belt land in the NPPF has been strengthened.
"Substantial weight" must be given to any harm to the
Green Belt, and the "very special circumstances" which
must be shown to justify approval of inappropriate development in
the Green Belt will not exist unless the harm is "clearly
outweighed" by other considerations.
Re-use of Brownfield Land: The policy
requiring local authorities to prioritise re-use of previously
developed land is retained. The change in the final NPPF is
that local authorities may continue to consider setting a local
target for the use of brownfield land.
Housing Land Supply: Local authorities
must produce and update annually a supply of specific deliverable
sites sufficient to provide five years' housing supply
against plan requirements, with a buffer of 5%. Whilst the
draft NPPF included a requirement for a buffer of 20%, in the final
plan this will only apply to authorities that have persistently
failed to deliver housing against their targets.
Town Centres: The NPPF brings offices and
leisure uses back into the scope of the town centres policy, and
retains the requirement for sequential testing. Applications
which fail the sequential test or are likely to have significant
adverse impacts should be refused. This is in line with the
previous PPS4 position. In the plan-making context, the NPPF
stresses the importance of ensuring that needs for retail, leisure,
office and other main town centre uses are "met in full and
are not compromised by limited site availability".
Viability: Local authorities are urged to
ensure that development plans are deliverable, and that new
development sites are not subject to such a scale of obligations as
to threaten their ability to be developed viably. Local
authorities are urged to discuss the need for conditions or s106
obligations with the developer and to explore the options for
keeping the costs of those to a minimum, but it is clear that
development should not be approved if the necessary mitigation
measures cannot be secured.
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