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The New NPPF – What Does it Mean?

Phillip Robson, Barrister at Kings Chambers, comments

After some delay, the revised National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) was published on 24 July 2018. Some may argue that publishing it on the day of Parliamentary recess was a cynical ploy by the Government to avoid any debate in the House. What it does mean is the new policies will have been through some practical application before the new framework is debated in Parliament.

The new framework and accompanying amendments to the Planning Practice Guidance (PPG), followed the Government’s publication of the Housing White Paper (fixing our broken housing market). Some of the policy changes are geared to support the ambition of delivering 300,000 new homes per year by 2020 – a point re-emphasised in the PPG.

The revised NPPF includes a number of key policy changes, with some of the main points covered below.

The starting point
The statutory test of determining applications for planning permission in accordance with the development plan remains intact unless material considerations indicate otherwise. The NPPF is a material consideration, but the development plan is still the starting point. This is an obvious point, but an occasional tendency to skip over local plans and into the NPPF was the subject of a little judicial ire.

The presumption in favour of sustainable development
The presumption in favour of sustainable development remains a key principle but has undergone significant changes in detail. As before, if an application is in accordance with an up-to-date local development plan then it should be approved without delay. Similarly, the tilted balance remains in place, but the gateways to engage the terms of paragraph 11 have changed.

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