More Changes on the Way…

08 February 2021

On 30th January the Government published a consultation on proposed draft alterations to the NPPF. The consultation was published as part of MHCLG’s response to last years’ Building Better, Building Beautiful commission report. The key changes proposed address a number of issues including the following:

1. Improve design.

  • Re-emphasising the social objective of the planning system to include the word ‘beautiful’ confirming that the social objective of the planning system is to include the fostering of ‘well designed, beautiful and safe places’.
  • Stipulating the fact that development, which does not reflect good design, should be refused. Conversely, significant weight in the decision-making process should be given to development which reflects local design policies and government guidance on design.
  • Making specific reference to the fact that all new streets should be tree lined and ensuring that opportunities are taken to incorporate trees elsewhere in new development.

2. Flooding

  • Placing emphasis on the fact that plans should manage existing flood risk, by using opportunities provided by new development and improvements in green and other infrastructure to reduce the causes and impacts of flooding (making as much use as possible of natural flood management techniques).

3. Article 4 directions

  • Limit the use of article 4 directions to ensure that they are only used in cases where “necessary in order to protect an interest of national significance” to ensure that the opportunities provided by new permitted development rights which allow the conversion of buildings to residential properties are optimised,

4. Clarify the provision of affordable home ownership.

  • Paragraph 65 has been amended to confirm that where major development involving the provision of housing is proposed, planning policies and decisions should expect at least ten per cent of the “total number” of homes to be available for affordable home ownership.

5. Additional considerations relating to the removal of statues.

  • A new paragraph (197) has been added confirming that “in considering any applications to remove or alter an historic statue, plaque or memorial (whether listed or not), local planning authorities should have regard to the importance of retaining these heritage assets and, where appropriate, of explaining their historic and social context rather than removal”.

6. Empower neighbourhood plans re size of development.

  • Amend paragraph 69 to remove any suggestion that neighbourhood plans can only allocate small or medium-sized sites.

7. Encourage a range of transport modes in strategic planning

  • Introduce (paragraph 73) a new proviso for new settlements and urban extensions that “a genuine choice of transport modes” should be included in strategic sites.

8. Tighten the rules governing the acceptability of paragraph 79 dwellings.

  • Amend the circumstances in which isolated homes in the countryside are acceptable. Previously included instances in which a design was “truly outstanding or innovative” to remove the word “innovative”.

9. An increased timescale for proposed new settlements

  • Plan making for proposed new large settlements should have a 30 year timescale rather than the usual 15. Under the proposed changes, the following statement confirms: “Where larger-scale development such as new settlements form part of the strategy for the area, policies should be set within a vision that looks further ahead (at least 30 years), to take into account the likely timescale for delivery.”

Alongside the recommended changes to the NPPF, the Government also published a draft National Model Design Code (NMDC) outlining standards that new development would be expected to meet. The NMDC provides a checklist of design principles for consideration when assessing new developments such as building type, street character and ‘the requirements address wellbeing and environmental impact’. The intention is for the NMDC to be used as a checklist for LPAs when forming their own ‘unique’ local design codes.

For more information on the above consultation and the NMDC please click on the following link below; 

For more details regarding the Building Better Building Beautiful Commission “Living with Beauty” report please click on the link below:

Building Better Building Beautiful Commission “Living with Beauty” report.