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The New National Planning Policy Framework

Planning consultant David Kemp BSc (Hons) MRICS Barrister* (*non-practising) and Director at DRK Planning Ltd, comments

In December 2023, the Government published a revised new National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF). This sets out the Government’s planning policies for England and how these should be applied.

The focus of the NPPF is on housing delivery, but it does include several other provisions. The NPPF policies should be given significant weight in planning decisions and in plan-making.
Nearly 80% of local authorities have an out-of-date local plan. Where there is no local plan policy or the local plan (usually a local plan dating from pre-2004) is in conflict with the NPPF, then the current NPPF policies should take priority and carry the greater weight.

Furthermore, the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (England) Order 2015 (as amended) states in respect of prior approval decisions, such as under Class MA (commercial to residential conversions) that, to the extent prior approval engages a specific issue or policy consideration (e.g. transport, flooding, noise), “then a local planning authority must have regard to the National Planning Policy Framework, so far as relevant to the subject matter of the prior approval, as if the application were a planning application.”

Therefore, what the NPPF states matters a great deal in planning decisions.

The NPPF emphasises that preparing and maintaining up-to-date locally prepare plans (Local Plans, Neighbourhood Plans etc) is a priority, and providing for sufficient housing and other development in a sustainable manner is a main objective of this. 

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