National Planning Policy Framework Update

12 October 2021

National Planning Framework

The National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF), introduced in 2012, has undergone regular changes over the years. The most recent update was published in July 2021.

The NPPF outlines three main objectives for achieving sustainable development:

  • Economic
  • Environmental
  • Social

The latest NPPF revision emphasises that all new developments should be “well designed, beautiful, and safe spaces.” This replaces the previous requirement for new development sites to be “a well-designed and safe built environment.” The government aims to prioritise communities over developers and ensure high-quality design becomes the norm in favour of sustainable development.

The concept of new developments needing to be “beautiful” is further explained in the revised policy. Local planning authorities now have the power to reject applications that don’t align with local design policies, guides, and codes. Housing communities and local government should should also give significant weight to applications that promote sustainability or raise design standards in the area. It is crucial for future planning applications to comply with these new design policies, as non-compliant developments will generally be rejected.

Another significant addition to the NPPF planning system is the mandatory requirement for new streets to be lined with trees. It also encourages incorporating trees in other parts of new developments and ensuring their long-term maintenance. Collaboration with local highways officers and tree officers is advised to ensure appropriate tree planting.

These changes, along with others in the NPPF, may be the initial steps taken by the government to simplify the planning process for developments that meet minimum design requirements and standards. Further planning policy changes are expected in the autumn.

Read the full updated government planning policy here

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