Draft National Planning Policy Framework published

Hulton Park

6th March 2018

The long-awaited draft National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) was published this week (5 March). The consultation closes on 10 May 2018.

The draft revised Framework incorporates policy proposals previously consulted on in the Housing White Paper and the Planning for the Right Homes in the Right Places consultation (CPRE Oxon responded to this consultation – see below).
The 2017 Budget included additional proposals to change planning policy and legislation to bring forward ‘more land in the right places’. This consultation seeks views on these additional policy proposals.
The National Planning Policy Framework consultation document sets out these proposals and the consultation questions.
We will be examining the proposals carefully and putting together our response shortly.
CPRE Oxfordshire’s initial response:
The proposed changes to the NPPF generally tilt the balance further towards growth and further away from environmental protection, and effectively relax the constraints on building on Green Belts. 
They will increase the pressure on local councils but do little to bring forward any increase in genuinely affordable housing.
Some significant key points, both good and bad, from a first reading of the new draft NPPF:
1. There’s a welcome new objective about making effective use of land, although no targets are set.  This includes increasing density, especially around public transport hubs, and making better use of previously developed land.  It also supports opportunities to use airspace above existing residential and commercial buildings for new homes.
2. Under the current NNPF, Green Belts can only be altered in ‘exceptional circumstances’ – the new NPPF fleshes out what these are, which is in effect a relaxation of constraints.
The Government Briefing Paper advice in 2015, that unmet housing need is unlikely to outweigh the harm to the Green Belt to constitute the “very special circumstances” justifying inappropriate development on a site within the Green Belt, has not appeared. 
The reasonable alternatives include: increasing densities on other sites, making maximum use of brownfield and underutilised land; and testing neighbouring authorities’ capacity to help.
3. The current NPPF says that economic, social and environmental objectives should be pursued jointly in every case. The new NPPF explicitly states that these are not criteria against which every decision should be judged.
4. Housing need targets are now identified as a minimum level to plan for, plus local authorities must meet any needs that cannot be met within neighbouring areas.
5. Local Plans will have to be reviewed at least every five years.
6. Smaller sites will be encouraged, with local authorities required to ensure that 20% of sites are half a hectare or less.
7. Conversions and new buildings in rural areas are to be given more support.
How to respond
The consultation closes at 11.45pm, on 10 May 2018.
Full details of how to respond to the consultation can be found on the Government website.
You can respond online.
Or you can complete a downloadable Response From from the Government website.
The Response Form can be emailed to: planningpolicyconsultation@communities.gsi.gov.uk , or posted to:
Planning Policy Consultation Team
Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government
3rd floor, South East
Fry Building
2 Marsham Street
Find out more
CPRE Oxfordshire, 6 March 2018 (Updated 14 March)