Although the revised NPPF has implemented approximately 85 reforms, it is in no way a re-written framework, much remains the same with the objective to finesse the detail and remove previous ambiguities.

What is apparent and familiar is “the presumption in favour of sustainable development” this is still very much at the heart of the framework – although you now have to commit paragraph 11 to memory instead of paragraph 14!

NPPF: key points summary:

1. The NPPF should be read as a whole…

This includes the footnotes and the annexes, which have been made clearer (particularly footnote 6 which now makes the policy context clear – it is the policies in the framework not the development plan that should be applied).

2. Presumption in Favour of Sustainable Development (Paragraph 11)

Minor changes to the wording have been made with the intention to make its scope clearer and how it will be applied. Notably reference is now made to ‘uses’ rather than ‘development’ in the context of addressing objectively assessed needs through strategic policies (paragraph 11b).

3. Viability – (Paragraph 57)

Where up-to-date policies have set out the contributions expected from development, planning applications that comply with them should be assumed to be viable.

It is up to the applicant to demonstrate whether particular circumstances justify the need for a viability assessment.

Viability assessments should be made publicly available (although may still have circumstances where the information is considered to be commercially sensitive).

No mandatory review mechanism has been imposed.

Land value – EUV+ has been retained.

4. Entry Level Exception Sites (Paragraph 71)

Allows development on land which is not allocated for housing and which can be used to cater for first time buyers or persons looking to rent – development shall be limited in size (1 hectare or no more than 5% of existing settlement) and must offer affordable housing.

5. Effective Use of land and existing buildings – Chapter 11

As a whole this chapter has a number of points to note including:

  • Making more intensive use of existing land and buildings (paragraph 118d-e).
  • Avoiding building homes at low densities in areas of high demand, and pursuing higher-density housing in accessible locations, (paragraph 123).
  • Making more effective use of empty space above shops (paragraph 118d).
  • Making it easier to convert retail and employment land to housing where this would be a more effective use (paragraph 121a).

6. Definition of Affordable Housing (Annex 2)

This has been updated - in addition to social rent, affordable rent, shared ownership and other low cost housing it now includes “starter homes” as a form of affordable housing as well as acknowledging rent to buy.

What to take away and how we can help

It is important to highlight that as a consequence of the revisions to the NPPF, associated revisions to the National Planning Practice Guidance (NPPG) will also be made. At this stage only the revisions in relation to viability have been made but the others will follow at some point in the future…

If you want to know more about the revised NPPF and what this means in practice our dedicated planning solicitor Suzanne Smith would be happy to assist.