A guide to NPPF

The below article is from 2011 and relates to the draft NPPF. For all the latest news, comment and analysis visit

The draft National Planning Policy Framework (known as the NPPF) was released in draft form earlier this month [Link Here], and represents a massive overhaul in the planning system. This 52 page document consolidates over a 1000 pages of central guidance – Planning PolicyStatements (PPS), Planning Policy Guidance Notes (PPG) and some Circulars, as well as the potentialto remove 6000 pages of supporting documentation, which have been informing Local Planning Authority plans and in effect determining planning permissions for over 20 years.

To put this consolidation into some perspective, PPG 19, “Outdoor Advertisements” is an 11 page document which has been informing how local councils determine applications for adverts. In the NPPF, guidance on outdoor advertisements has been cut down to just five lines.

There are three objectives for this new Policy; they are –

  1. Improving the clarity of national policy so as to give developers greater certainty, reduce costs and burdens for businesses, and promote sustainable development;
  2. Handing power back to local communities to decide what is right for them – instead of imposing an excessive number of rigid rules from the centre; and
  3. Being more user-friendly and accessible, so that it is easier for members of the public to have a meaningful say in planning decisions.

A major part of the NPPF is to promote sustainable development. In fact, the intrinsic structure ofthe document is based around the three principles of sustainable development under three chapter titles;

  • planning for prosperity (an economic role);
  • planning for people (a social role);
  • planning for places (an environmental role).

Central to the document is an emphasis on approving developments which are seen to be sustainable, and that the presumption in favour of sustainable development should be seen as a “golden thread running through both plan making and decision taking” for Local Planning Authorities.

The other element this document ratifies (although doesn’t mention) is the recent Localism Bill [link] which is currently being reviewed by Parliament. The Localism Bill in essence is about decentralisation of government powers to the lowest possible levels, which includes individuals, neighbourhoods, professionals and communities as well as local councils and other local institutions.

The Bill proposes planning reforms which allow for neighbourhood planning, the aim of which is to give power to local communities to sculpt their own local areas; for instance, where new shops, offices or homes should go. Local people will also be able to issue Neighbourhood Development Orders (essentially bi-passing the planning system for development approval) and produce neighbourhood plans – which would be statutory after a local referendum.

How is this likely to affect the general public? And us as practitioners? Well, it really is very uncertain at the moment – and in that sense contradictory to what the government has stated in the Policies objectives. By removing figures, objectives and rules, and by leaving most of the decision making up to local councils and neighbourhoods, this could lead to inequality, inconsistency, and general confusion without proper guidelines.

The NPPF also notes that when plans are out of date, the presumption should be to approve planning permissions. This could be a real opportunity for developers in certain local authority areas, especially where the authority are already missing their housing targets.

Public consultation on the draft NPPF is currently ongoing until 17th October 2011.

All our consultants at Plainview Planning are carefully reviewing the policies as they emerge from consultation. Should you wish to discuss the impact of the NPPF on your development or land please contact us on