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Hot Topic Highlight – NPPF 3

Updated: Oct 30, 2023

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What is today's blog about?

This is essential reading for Planning & Development pathway RICS APC candidates, as well as any candidates involved in the planning process.

You can download a full copy of the NPPF here.

What is the NPPF?

The NPPF sets out the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government’s (MHCLG) planning policies for England, together with how these should be applied in practice. It provides a framework within which locally-prepared plans for housing and development can be produced.

It was originally published to simplify planning guidance on a national level and introduced a focus on sustainable development.

MHCLG also publishes Planning Practice Guidance (PPGs) which sit alongside and support the NPPF.

When was the NPPF updated?

The NPPF was last updated on 20 July 2021 in it’s 3rd edition. This updated the original NPPF published in March 2012, which was subsequently revised in July 2018 and February 2019.

What changes were made?

The 3rd edition of the NPPF focusses more strongly on the design quality of places as a whole, rather than just for individual sites.

It also emphasises protection and enhancement of the environment, the contribution of trees to new development and promotion of a sustainable pattern of development. Policies have also been amended relating to permitted development rights and the use of masterplans and design codes.

What specific changes have been made to the chapters of NPPF 3?

Chapter 2 – Achieving Sustainable Development - recognition of the UN Sustainable Development Goals and an enhanced environmental objective to protect, enhance and improve biodiversity (rather than to simply contribute to this)

Chapter 3 – Plan Making – increased focus on the design quality of places and a new paragraph, ‘where larger scale developments such as new settlements or significant extensions to existing villages and towns form part of the strategy for the area, policies should be set within a vision that looks further ahead (at least 30 years), to take into account the likely timescale for delivery’.

Chapter 4 – Decision Making – conditions relating to Article 4 directions removing permitted development rights are clarified.

Chapter 5 – Delivering a Sufficient Supply of Homes – when identifying land for homes, neighbourhood planning groups should ‘give particular consideration’ to the opportunities for allocating small and medium-sized sites. There are also amendments relating to the choice of transport modes for large sites and the use of masterplans and design guides or codes to secure a variety of ‘well-designed and beautiful homes’ to meet different user needs.

Chapter 8 – Promoting Healthy and Safe Communities – pedestrian and cycle routes should be well-designed and aesthetically pleasing. Local authorities should work proactively with key stakeholders relating to public service infrastructure and resolve issues before applications are submitted.

Chapter 9 – Promoting Sustainable Transport – this includes similar amendments as made in Chapter 8. When sites are assessed, ‘the design of streets, parking areas, other transport elements and the content of associated standards reflects current national guidance, including the National Design Guide and the National Model Design Code’.

Chapter 11 – Making Efficient Use of Land – in relation to development densities, ‘area-based character assessments, design guides and codes and masterplans can be used to help ensure that land is used efficiently while also creating beautiful and sustainable places’.

Chapter 12 – Achieving Well-Designed Places – many amendments have been made to focus on beautiful and sustainable place making and design. This encourages the use of plans, design policy, guidance and codes. There is also an emphasis on the contribution of trees to the character and quality of urban developments.

Chapter 14 - Meeting the Challenge of Climate Change, Flooding and Coastal Change – sources of flood risk are defined more widely and green infrastructure improvements and natural flood management techniques are encouraged.

Chapter 15 – Conserving and Enhancing the Natural Environment – permission for major development applications in National Parks, the Broads and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty should be refused other than in exceptional circumstances.

How can we help?

Stay tuned for our next blog post to help build a better you.

N.b. Nothing in this article constitutes legal, professional or financial advice.


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