by Jo Hanslip
On the 23rd December 2022 the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) finally published the consultation on updates to the NPPF. The consultation (Prospectus) runs until the 2nd March 2023 and covers the following areas:
- Chapter 1 – Introduction
- Chapter 2 – Policy objectives
- Chapter 3 – Providing certainty through local and neighbourhood plans
- Chapter 4 – Planning for housing
- Chapter 5 – A planning system for communities
- Chapter 6 – Asking for beauty
- Chapter 7 – Protecting the environment and tackling climate change
- Chapter 8 – Onshore wind and energy efficiency
- Chapter 9 – Preparing for the new system of plan-making
- Chapter 10 – National Development Management Policies
- Chapter 11 – Enabling Levelling Up
- Chapter 12 – Wider changes to national planning policy in the future
- Chapter 13 – Practical changes and next steps
- Chapter 14 – Table of questions
- Chapter 15 – About this consultation
The consultation notes that a fuller review of the Framework is occur in due course and will have regard to the wider planning system amendments proposed by the Levelling-up and Regeneration Bill. It is also suggested many of the changes proposed would take effect in the publication of a revised NPPF in the Spring 2023.
Responses can be send via the address below:
There are some immediate changes and the NPPF tracked changes highlight the changes which take effect immediately.
The Government states that it is committed to “delivering 300,000 homes a year by the mid-2020s and many of the immediate changes focus on how we plan to deliver the homes our communities need. We know that the best way to secure more high-quality homes in the right places is through the adoption of local plans. At present, fewer than half of local authorities have up-to-date plans (adopted in the past five years). Our proposed reforms create clear incentives for more local authorities to adopt plans…….If communities know they can protect valuable green space and natural habitats as well as requiring new developments to be high quality and beautiful, plans are more likely to be both durable and robust.”
The consultation’s objective are identified as:
- Building beautiful and refusing ugliness
- Securing the infrastructure needed to support development
- More democratic engagement with communities on local plans
- Better environmental outcomes
- Empowering communities to shape their neighbourhoods
- Deliver more homes in the right places, supported by sustainable and integrated infrastructure for our communities and our economy
Here we look in depth at chapters 9 – 12.
Chapter 9 – Preparing for the new system of plan-making
- 11 May 2022, Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill is introduced.
- Spring 2023, Subject to Parliamentary approval, Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill receives Royal Assent.
- November 2024, Expected earliest date when LPAs with a plan which is more than 5 years old must begin new plan-making process.
- 30 June 2025, Cut-off date for old-style plans to be submitted for examination.
- October 2026, Earliest date that the first new-style examinations commence.
- 31 December 2026, Latest date for any old-style local and minerals and waste plans to be adopted (or in the case of Strategic Development Strategies, published). April 2027, First new-style plans are adopted.
- 31 December 2031, Latest date when LPAs must begin the new style plan-making process (if their previous plan was adopted on 31 December 2026)
Chapter 10 – National Development Management Policies
What may change:
What are National Development Management Policies?
- Would cover planning considerations that apply regularly in decision-making across England or significant parts of it, such as general policies for conserving heritage assets, and preventing inappropriate development in the Green Belt and areas of high flood risk
- We are proposing that the starting point for creating National Development Management Policies would be these existing parts of the National Planning Policy Framework which apply to decision-making
- will aid decision making by making the basis for decisions clearer.
- Would not impinge on local policies for shaping development, nor direct what land should be allocated for particular uses during the plan-making process.
- Separate document to the rest of the National Planning Policy Framework.
The Case for National Development Management Policies
- “They will help local authorities produce swifter, slimmer plans by removing the need to set out generic issues of national importance such as policies for protecting the Green Belt;
- They will make plans more locally-relevant and easier for communities and other users to digest;
- It will be easier for applicants to align their proposals with national and local policy requirements and, where they wish, to go beyond them. We expect this to be particularly valuable for small and medium enterprises: it will support our small and medium sized builders to build more of the homes and create more of the skilled jobs that people want to see in their communities;
- They will provide greater assurance that important policy safeguards which apply nationally, or to significant parts of England (such as protections for areas at risk of flooding, policy on climate change, and policies to protect the Green Belt) will be upheld with statutory weight and applied quickly across the country, including when any changes are made; and
- They will mean that this framework of common national policies can guide decisions even if the local plan is significantly out-of-date and cannot be relied upon. For example, they will ensure that national protections for things safeguarded solely through planning policy – local wildlife sites for example – have clear statutory status equivalent to an up-to-date plan”
The scope of National Development Management Policies
- “Covering only matters that have a direct bearing on the determination of planning applications;
- Limited to key, nationally important issues commonly encountered in making decisions on planning applications across the country (or significant parts of the country); and
- solely addressing planning issues, in other words that concern the development and use of land. National Development Management Policies would not address subjects which are regulated through other legislation, for example the building regulations or acts relating to public health, pollution, and employment; although we are minded to retain the scope for optional technical standards to be set locally through plans, where these remain appropriate, so that local planning authorities can go above certain minima set through building standards.”
The relationship between National Development Management Policies and locally produced plans
Chapter 11 – Enabling Levelling Up
What may change:
Levelling up and boosting economic growth
- “Levelling up is the central objective of this government. Building on the Levelling Up White Paper and the Bill, we want to ensure that national planning policies empower local leaders across the country to attract investment, drive economic growth and grow the private sector”
- Ensure local plans support new business and SME’s
- Drive productivity and support R&D.
Levelling up and boosting pride in place
- Safer Streets Fund
- “want to understand if national planning policy should do more to enable local authorities to consider the safety of women and girls, and other vulnerable groups, when setting policies or making decisions.”
Chapter 12 – Wider changes to national planning policy in the future
What may change:
- Achieving sustainable development – beauty, health, engagement
- Plan-making – new ‘Alignment Policy’, more wider uptake of strategic planning to understand and resolve environmental issues in a joined up way
- Decision-making – National Development Management Policies, digital methods of community engagement, greater emphasis on planning enforcement
- Delivering a sufficient supply of homes – control over the build-out of sites with permission for residential development, lifting the 5-year housing supply requirement where plans are fewer than 5 years old
- Building a strong, competitive economy – supporting employment land
- Ensuring the vitality of town centres – review the approach to town centre and out-of-centre development in the light of the Use Class Order changes
- Promoting sustainable transport – Gear Change’ programme, update to Local Transport Plan’s Guidance, update to Manual for Streets, reduce carbon consumption, review policy on the freight sector and supply chains infrastructure, such as lorry parking, warehouse space and rail freight hubs
- Achieving well-designed places – mandatory authority wide design codes and supplementary plans
- Protecting Green Belt land – ‘green’ the Green Belt
- Meeting the challenge of climate change, flooding and coastal change – address climate change
- Conserving and enhancing the natural environment – Environment Act 2021; mandatory Biodiversity Net Gain from 2023
- Conserving and enhancing the historic environment – hanged status of some historic designations
View the full consultation here: