'Building beautiful places' - updated national planning policy framework (NPPF)

Government releases new vision for 'building beautiful places', including new updated national planning policy framework (NPPF).

As part of the Government’s wider plans to change the planning system, a revised version of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) was published on 20th July 2021.

The aim of this, as set out by Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick, is to “ensure that communities are more meaningfully engaged in how new development happens, that local authorities are given greater confidence in turning down schemes which do not meet locally set standards.”

The main changes that are proposed aim to improve the design of new developments, in line with the government’s Building Better, Building Beautiful commission. These include:

  • Changing the overarching social objective of the planning system to include the fostering of well designed, beautiful and safe places.
  • Introducing a new test that development should be well designed, taking into account local design policies and government guidance on design.
  • Saying that significant weight should be given to development which reflects local design policies and government design guidance, taking into account local design guidance and supplementary planning documents.
  • Stating that significant weight should be given to outstanding or innovate design designs which promote high levels of sustainability or raise the design standard in an area in general. 
  • Stating that all local planning authorities should prepare design guides or codes consistent with the National Design Guide and National Model Design Code.
  • The design of streets, parking areas and other transport elements should reflect current national guidance, including the National Design Guide and National Model Design Code.

The use of trees in design is given greater emphasis. through the introduction of new paragraph 131, stating that p Planning policies and decisions should ensure that streets are treelined and that opportunities are taken to incorporate trees into development. Existing trees should be retained wherever possible and policies and decisions should ensure that appropriate measures are in place to secure the long term maintenance of newly-planted trees. Applicants should ensure that the right trees are planted in the right places.

An amendment is made in paragraph 11a relating to the presumption in favour of sustainable development,. saying thatIt now states “all plans should promote a sustainable pattern of development that seeks to: meet the development needs of their area; align growth and infrastructure; improve the environment; mitigate climate change (including by making effective use of land in urban areas) and adapt to its effects.”

The government’s aim of preventing the removal of statues and monuments is set out clearly within the revised NPPF. It now states that local planning authorities should have regard to the importance of their retention in situ and, where appropriate, explaining historic and social context rather than removal.

Amendments have also been made to provide clarity on the use of Article 4 directions to remove permitted development rights. These confirm that such directions should be limited to situations where they are necessary to avoid wholly unacceptable adverse impacts, e.g. the loss of the essential core of a primary shopping area. 

New paragraph 96 has been added to ensure faster delivery of public service infrastructure. This includes further education colleges, hospitals and prisons.

Mark Campbell, Associate Director and Head of Planning at Evans Jones comments:

“The changes to the NPPF are the first step in the Government’s plans to update the planning system.  The emphasis on good design is welcomed but it remains to be seen how quickly and effectively design codes will be adopted by local authorities.  The Government still need to go further to ensure the “build, build, build” mantra is supported and that our national housing crisis is properly addressed.”

If you require any advice on how the new NPPF affects your development proposals or require assistance with any other planning matters please contact mark.campbell@evansjones.co.uk