Skip to main content

The National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF)

03 January 2014

The National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) was published on 27 March 2012 by the Department for Communities and Local Government. It sets out the Government’s planning policies for England and how these should be applied. What is it, and does it help or hinder development?

What is it?

Prior to the evolution of the NPPF, planning guidance was set out within Planning Policy Guidance and Planning Policy Statements. These together contained over 1000 pages of text. The aim and purpose of the NPPF was to drastically reduce the amount of planning guidance and policy to a single 57 page document, with the intention of making the planning system simpler and easier to navigate and, as a result, pro-growth.

The NPPF makes no change to the statutory basis underpinning the way in which planning decisions must be made. This point is often misunderstood. Section 38(6) of the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004 requires that the determination of a planning application

“must be made in accordance with the development plan unless material considerations indicate otherwise”

and that remains the case.

The local planning policies of a local planning authority (LPA) (which form part of its development plan) must conform to the NPPF. So the NPPF is, in effect, top trumps (as it were). Given the NPPF has extended the policy position beyond that which existed previously, by introducing its key

“presumption in favour of sustainable development”

the importance of the NPPF can hopefully be seen. This presumption is regularly referred to as the golden thread running through both plan-making and decision-taking. Although the concept of sustainable development has not been expressly defined in the NPPF, it provides a simple test to assist. That is that planning permission should be granted unless the adverse impacts of granting the permission would significantly and demonstrably outweigh the benefits.

Please click 'download files' to read the full Insight.

Related items

Related services

Back To Top