The new National Planning Policy Framework

A greater emphasis on design quality and sustainability in the planning reforms, including the ‘community-focused approach’ of local design codes.

However, developers and local authorities need “to think about the long-term sustainability of new homes and communities, as opposed to cramming the greatest possible number of homes onto a site.”

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We have a new NPPF:

The National Planning Policy Framework was revised on 20 July 2021 and sets out the government’s planning policies for England and how these are expected to be applied. This revised Framework replaces the previous National Planning Policy Framework published in March 2012, revised in July 2018 and updated in February 2019.

National Planning Policy Framework – GOV.UK

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Together with new guidance on policies to promote successful design:

National Model Design Code – GOV.UK

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Here’s the Minister’s accompanying statement:

The Government is publishing today the revised National Planning Policy Framework (the Framework), the new National Model Design Code and the Government’s response to the consultation on both.

The new Framework is fundamental to ensuring local authorities and communities can shape and deliver beautiful places to live and work, with a greater emphasis on quality, design and the environment than ever before.

Written statements – Written questions, answers and statements – UK Parliament

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Here are some of the main points coming out of the new framework:

Heritage
A new policy (paragraph 198) has been introduced which states “In considering any
applications to remove or alter a historic statue, plaque, memorial or monument
(whether listed or not), local planning authorities should have regard to the importance
of their retention in situ and, where appropriate, of explaining their historic and social
context rather than removal.”

Design

Beauty and place-making become a strategic theme in the NPPF with references
embedded throughout.

Chapter 12 introduces the mandatory preparation of design guides and codes by local
planning authorities, which should be “consistent with the principles set out in the
National Design Guide and National Model Design Code…”

Chapter 12 gives ‘significant weight’ to development which reflects local design policies
and government guidance; and details the basis for decision making on design matters.

There is also an emphasis on making use of trees in new developments through new
planting or retention of existing trees.

Sustainable Development

There is a greater emphasis on the environment (including the historic environment)
and sustainability in paragraphs 8 and 11 of the revised NPPF.

There is an extended definition of the presumption in favour of sustainable
development in paragraph 11 with all plans promoting “a sustainable pattern of
development that seeks to…improve the environment…” alongside references to
infrastructure and climate change.

Sustainable Use of Minerals

Revisions to paragraph 211 place a greater emphasis on how to meet any demand for
the extraction of building stone needed for the repair of heritage assets, taking account
of the need to protect designated sites. There is no longer a reference to small-scale
extraction at, or close to, relic quarries.

National Planning Policy Framework

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Here’s comment from the Architects’ Journal:

Parks and community orchards are to be encouraged in developments, while all new streets must be lined with trees, under changes made to the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF)

The policy change is among a swathe of edits made to the planning framework, part of the government’s sweeping reforms to the English planning system. The edits make it mandatory for councils to produce local design codes and increase the emphasis on ‘beauty’ in development.

Alan Jones, president of the RIBA, said he welcomed a greater emphasis on design quality and sustainability in the planning reforms, including the ‘community-focused approach’ of local design codes.

But he added: ‘I remain seriously concerned that wider planning system reforms – including the extension of Permitted Development Rights – undermine the stated commitment to quality design. These planning reforms need to level up the quality of new housing developments across England; this means requiring developers and local authorities to think about the long-term sustainability of new homes and communities, as opposed to cramming the greatest possible number of homes onto a site. Unless they are prepared to challenge the commercial incentives that govern the housing market, these reforms will do little to address the gap between the quality, safety and sustainability of many of the new homes we build and our country’s commitments under the Climate Change Act.’

What’s in the revised NPPF? Tree-lined streets, orchards and design codes

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And here’s quite an extraordinary development from the weekend – because of the new NPPF:

A vote that would have sealed the fate of a controversial housing development on the edge of the Knepp rewilding estate has been cancelled by Horsham District Council. However, on Wednesday evening the council announced it was withdrawing the local plan due to changes made to the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) last week.

Vote on Knepp rewilding estate developments pulled at last minute

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Meanwhile, Parliament is also looking into these things, with a new inquiry:

The new House of Lords Built Environment Committee, chaired by Baroness Neville-Rolfe, has launched an inquiry into housing demand in the UK and how barriers to meeting this demand can be overcome. The Committee invites interested individuals and organisations to submit written evidence to this inquiry by 10 September 2021. The Committee will hold evidence sessions between July and October 2021 and will publish its report in winter.

Call for Evidence – Committees – UK Parliament

   
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