Piers Riley-Smith Breaks Down the New NPPF
A ‘new’ National Planning Policy Framework has arrived making ‘minor clarifications’ to the 2018 version.
Whether you call it NPPF 3, NPPF 2019 or The Return of the NPPF, it is worth identifying the ‘clarifications’ and examining their effect:
- RIP NPPF 2018: It would seem we can chuck the previous 2018 version of the NPPF in the bin. A slight amendment to para. 214 makes clear the only ‘previous Framework’ relevant to plans submitted on or prior to 24 January 2019 is the framework ‘published in March 2012’. NPPF 2019 has entirely replaced NPPF 2018.
- Habitats Directive: Ever since the ‘People Over Wind’ case, policy and case law have been out of step when it came to the Habitats Directive. Amendments to para. 177 has tackled this by reducing the impact of failing to rule out likely significant effects at the screening stage. Before, this meant an automatic loss of the presumption for sustainable development if an Appropriate Assessment was required. Now, an Appropriate Assessment can prevent the loss of the presumption if it shows the project would not adversely affect the integrity of the habitat site by mitigating the likely significant effects.
- Local housing need: Together minor amendments to ftn. 37 and to the definition of ‘Local housing need’ have clarified the use of the standard method for calculating housing need. It is to be used for all calculations but there is an option when preparing strategic policies to use a justified alternative. This is a ‘may’ not a ‘must’ and only intended for exceptional circumstances.
- Deliverable: The ‘deliverable’ definition has been tweaked to provide further clarity. The separation of the first sentence emphasises that it contains the general considerations, but which have a certain application in the specific circumstances listed in a) and b) below. Sub-paragraph a) clarifies that non-major development with outline planning permission will be considered deliverable in principle unless clear evidence to contrary; sun-paragraph b) clarifies that major-developments with outline planning permission will only be considered deliverable in certain scenarios with clear evidence.
Those are the main textual changes in the NPPF but be aware that 19 February 2019 also brought us the Housing Delivery Test 2018 which also implemented the results of the Government’s Oct 2018 Technical Consultation.