National Planning Policy Framework 2012

Date: April 2012

The government released the final version of the National Planning Policy Framework on 27 March 2012 and is effective immediately. It significantly reduces more than a thousand pages of National Policy Guidance and is intended to make planning much simpler and more accessible.

There are some important changes but the overall objective of the newly designed Framework is to speed up decision making and reduce bureaucracy. There is a clearer definition of sustainable development, an explicit recognition of the value of the countryside as a whole, and a revived emphasis on building on previously developed brownfield sites rather than unspoilt green spaces.

Below is a summary of the key points:
It replaces most of the Planning Policy Statements (PPS) and Planning Policy Guidance Notes (PPG) plus the key letters to Chief Executives.
(Annex 3)
• There is a presumption in favour of sustainable development.
(Paragraph 14)
It encourages building conversion.
(Paragraph 17)
• Planning Policies should support economic growth in rural areas. To promote a strong rural economy, local and neighbourhood plans should: support the sustainable growth and expansion of all types of business and enterprise in rural areas both through conversion of existing buildings and well designed new buildings; promote the development and diversification of agricultural and other land-based rural business.
(Paragraph 28)
• All developments generating significant traffic should have a Travel Plan.
(Paragraph 35)
• Generally supports change of use from commercial to residential where there is an identified need for additional housing in that area.
(Paragraph 51)
• New housing in rural areas will be avoided unless it is for ‘the essential need for a rural worker to live permanently at or near their place of work in the countryside.’
(Annex A of PPS7)
• Permits residential use of redundant or disused buildings leading to an enhancement of the immediate setting.
(Paragraph 55)
• Retains the potential for exceptionally designed houses.
(Paragraph 55)
• In Green Belts, new buildings are inappropriate unless for agriculture, appropriate facilities for outdoor sport and recreation, extension or alteration of an existing building or replacement of a building provided the use stays the same and the replacement is not materially larger.
(Paragraph 89)
• Supports building re-use in Green Belts although renewable energy projects in Green Belts may be inappropriate.
(Paragraphs 90/91)
• Supports renewable energy projects elsewhere.
(Paragraph 97)
• Takes into account the economic and other benefits of best and most versatile agricultural land, and if significant development is demonstrated to be necessary, poorer quality land should be used first.
(Paragraph 112)
• There is extensive guidance to Local Authorities who must produce Local Plans including collaboration between Local Authorities.
(Paragraph 150 onwards)
• There is simplified guidance on conditions and planning obligations.
(Paragraphs 203/204)
• For the next twelve months, less weight should be given to Local Plans adopted before 2004 and full weight to those adopted from 2004 onwards (even if there is a limited degree of conflict with the NPPF).
(Paragraphs 214/215)

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