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What next for planning in England? The National Planning Policy Framework

Published Friday, October 5, 2018

The National Planning Policy Framework sets the direction for planning in England. Following a consultation, it has been revised, to reflect more than 80 reforms previously announced by the Government in the Housing White Paper and in its consultation on planning for the right homes in the right places.

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The National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) – which applies only to England – was first published in 2012. It provides the framework for producing local plans for housing and other development, which in turn provide the background against which applications for planning permission are decided.

This briefing examines some of the main changes in the updated National Planning Policy Framework (published in July 2018), focussing primarily on the questions Members most often raise with the Commons Library.

Revising the National Planning Policy Framework

The updated National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF), published in July 2018, reflects several consultations stemming from the Housing White Paper and various changes already made through successive Ministerial Statements.  According to the Government, these amount to more than 80 reforms.

On 5 March 2018, the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) launched the consultation on an updated NPPF.  The draft text for consultation set out how MHCLG proposed to amend and update the NPPF. There was also a consultation proposals document setting out why and how the NPPF was being changed. 

In his speech to the planning conference coinciding with the launch of the consultation, the then Housing Secretary, Sajid Javid, said that the draft revised NPPF represented a change in culture, towards outcomes achieved. A summary of the Prime Minister's speech at the launch event with comments from the Royal Town Planning Institute is on the Number 10 webpages

The consultation closed on 10 May 2018.   The Government response to the consultation was published with the updated NPPF.

Changes to the NPPF's provisions

Some of the main changes to the NPPF’s provisions are summarised in a separate note (see link below).  Topics covered there and at more length in the briefing are:

  • Getting local plans in place as soon as possible
  • Presumption in favour of sustainable development
  • Neighbourhood plans and the presumption in favour of sustainable development
  • Standard method for calculating housing need
  • Timescales for development
  • Five-year land supply agreed for a year
  • Green Belt and brownfield land in the Green Belt
  • Environmental gain
  • Local wildlife sites
  • Protecting ancient woodland
  • Oil and gas exploration
  • Developer contributions
  • Viability assessments
  • Increasing density
  • New permitted development to extend upwards
  • Bringing forward agricultural land and
  • Swifter planning inquiries


Commentary on the proposals

There was much discussion in the media and in the specialist press about the proposed revision of the NPPF and, since then, about the updated NPPF. The final section of this briefing includes a selection of recent articles and commentary.

The Royal Town Planning Institute has published a briefing note on NPPF 2018 and the Local Government Association has also published a response. Amongst the other responses are those from Campaign to Protect Rural England, the  property consultants Strutt and Parker and other industry figures quoted in Property Week magazine.

More briefing from the House of Commons Library



Commons Briefing papers CBP-8260

Author: Gabrielle Garton Grimwood

Topics: Housing, Housing supply, Planning

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