What is the National Planning Policy Framework?

The Framework (NPPF) sets out the Government’s planning policies for England and came into effect in March 2012.

It replaces over a thousand pages of planning policy statements and planning policy guidance previously issued by the Government with a document of around fifty pages.

It provides the basis for local planning authorities to prepare their Local Plans and for communities producing Neighbourhood Plans. It should be read in conjunction with the National Planning Practice Guidance.

Achieving sustainable development

The Framework states that the purpose of the planning system is to contribute to the achievement of sustainable development.

The Framework also introduces a presumption in favour of sustainable development which means that development which is sustainable should be approved without delay.

What is meant by sustainable development?

The Framework contains sections which, taken as a whole, constitute the Government’s view of what sustainable development means in practice:

  1. Building a strong, competitive economy
  2. Ensuring the vitality of town centres
  3. Supporting a prosperous rural economy
  4. Promoting sustainable transport
  5. Supporting high quality communications infrastructure
  6. Delivering a wide choice of high quality homes
  7. Requiring good design
  8. Promoting healthy communities
  9. Protecting Green Belt land
  10. Meeting the challenge of climate change, flooding and coastal change
  11. Conserving and enhancing the natural environment
  12. Conserving and enhancing the historic environment
  13. Facilitating the sustainable use of minerals

What it says about Local Plans

Local Plans must be consistent with the principles and policies set out in the Framework, including the presumption in favour of sustainable development.

The Framework says that Local Plans should set out the strategic policies for the area such as the homes and jobs needed, climate change mitigation and adaptation and the provision of infrastructure.

The Local Plan should also meet the development needs of the area. Plans should be based on up-to-date and relevant data and evidence. What it says about Neighbourhood Planning

The Framework states that Neighbourhood Plans should support the strategic development needs of the wider area set out in the Local Plan. Therefore, Neighbourhood Plans should not promote less development or undermine its strategic policies.

It explains plans should focus on shaping development that is outside the strategic elements of the Local Plan.

The rules on Neighbourhood Planning require a Town or Parish Council, or Neighbourhood Forum, to submit a statement to the local planning authority along with their draft plan.

This should outline how the proposals in the Neighbourhood Plan meet certain ‘basic conditions’. One of these conditions is having regard to national policy and guidance.

Neighbourhood Plans are required to be in general conformity with the Framework as well. What it says about decision-taking

What is the National Planning Policy Framework?

The Framework is also a material consideration when taking decisions on planning applications, especially where the Local Plan (and London Plan in London) is absent, silent or relevant policies are out of date.

This is a point when the policy of a presumption in favour kicks in.