What is the National Planning Practice Guidance?


The Government published the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) in March 2012 and the National Planning Practice Guidance in March 2014.

Together, the National Planning Policy Framework and National Planning Practice Guidance set out what the Government expects of local authorities. The overall aim is to ensure the planning system allows land to be used for new homes and jobs, while protecting valuable natural and historic environments. About the guidance

The National Planning Practice Guidance adds further context to the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) and it is intended that the two documents should be read together.

The NPPG replaces over 7,000 pages of planning guidance that was previously published in separate documents. It is now available entirely in one place, online and not in hard copy. You can sign up for email alerts on any changes the Government makes to it in the future.

What does the guidance cover?

There are 42 pieces of guidance. Key topics include what should be included in Local Plans, Design, Ensuring the viability of town centres and Renewable and Low Carbon Energy.

There is entirely new guidance on what neighbourhood plans can do, on the formal ‘duty to cooperate’ between councils so that housing needs are not ignored, and on how development proposals are to be considered viable or not.

Several pieces of guidance relate to the planning application process including:

  • When is permission required?
  • Before submitting an application
  • Making an application
  • Consultation and pre-decision matters
  • Determining a planning application
  • Use of Planning Conditions
  • Planning obligations
  • Flexible options for planning permissions
  • Appeals
  • Ensuring effective enforcement
  • Lawful development certificates

What status does the guidance have?

Plan makers (mainly Local Authorities who are responsible for a Local Plan but also community groups who may be working on a neighbourhood plan) must have regard to national policies and advice contained in the guidance when developing their plans. Therefore, local and neighbourhood plans may reflect what the guidance says about certain topics.

The guidance is also a ‘material consideration’ when taking decisions on planning applications. This means that if a local policy is deemed out of date, local authorities may be directed by the national guidance’s requirements.