NPPF Impact Report Published by DCLG Select Committee – Big Changes Suggested


The National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) has now been in operation for two and a half years. The simplification it has brought to the planning system is welcome and was acknowledged by many witnesses, but it needs more time to bed in, and the Government needs to collect more data, before a full assessment can be made of its strengths and weaknesses. Nevertheless, the evidence to this inquiry has highlighted a number of emerging concerns: that the NPPF is not preventing unsustainable development in some places; that inappropriate housing is being imposed upon some communities as a result of speculative planning applications; and that town centres are being given insufficient protection against the threat of out of town development.
These concerns point to the need to strengthen, rather than withdraw, the NPPF. We have suggested a number of changes that should be made both to the NPPF itself and to the way it is applied.
• First, we must take steps to ensure that the planning system delivers the sustainable development promised in the NPPF. We should ensure that the same weight is given to the environmental and social as to the economic dimension; that permission is only given to development if accompanied by the infrastructure necessary to support it; and that the planning system places due emphasis on the natural environment.
Second, all councils must move much more quickly to get an adopted plan in place: this will give communities increased protection against the threat of undesirable development. We call for a statutory requirement for councils to get local plans adopted within three years of legislation being enacted.
• Third, we must address the complex issue of land supply. Provisions in the NPPF relating to the viability of housing land are leading to inappropriate development: these loopholes must be closed. There also needs to be clearer guidance about how
housing need should be assessed. In addition, local authorities should be encouraged
to review their green belts as part of the local planning process.
• Finally, changes should be made to ensure the NPPF gives greater protection to town centres. The internet has changed the way we shop; town centre planning policy must therefore evolve too. We call for an end to permitted development that allows shops and buildings used for financial and professional services to become homes without planning permission, a policy which is undermining the local planning process.
The NPPF makes clear that importance of a plan-led system that delivers sustainable development. We trust that the Government will make the changes we propose to ensure that this principle is met and the NPPF becomes a document in which everyone can have greater confidence.


3 thoughts on “NPPF Impact Report Published by DCLG Select Committee – Big Changes Suggested

  1. Interesting that there is close to no mention at all of the office to C3 permitted development rights, which have had a far greater impact than the A1/A2 to C3 rights…

  2. Unless these proposals receive the approval of that group of faceless developers that seem to be driving government planning policy these days, they will not see the light of day. The government have realised that the uproar caused by individual planning applications, does not translate into a collective negative response at the ballot box, unlike immigration.
    Without a non-political, long term plan to get the value of land out of the hands of a privileged minority, nothing will change.

  3. Jon, unfortunately, the PD rights changes are a perfect example of the ‘mission creep’ that has marked virtually all aspects of this government’s changes to planning policy.
    I don’t understand why commentators continue to repeat the lie of thousands of pages of planning policy guidance, distilled into to just 52 pages and called the NPPF. Just trawl through the document itself reading the footnotes and you will be directed to at least 1800 pages of further guidence. Add to this the technical guidence and the the PD rights changes mentioned and I rest my case.
    Those councils that have been panicked into producing a Local Plan full of loopholes, are being held up as examples to those struggling with the 12 month bear trap that was put in place.
    Planning policy wonks must have been involved in the initial process of changing government policy and made clear the impossibility of producing an adopted Local Plan in only 12 months. As such, one can only assume that creating a policy void, for developers to drive a coach and horses through, was always the intention.

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