National Planning Policy Framework

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NOMA, a proposed mixed-use development in central Manchester.

The National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) is a land-use planning policy in the United Kingdom. It was originally published by the UK's Department of Communities and Local Government in March 2012, consolidating over two dozen previously issued documents called Planning Policy Statements (PPS) and Planning Policy Guidance Notes (PPG) for use in England. It has since been revised in 2018, 2019 and 2021.

The NPPF pursues a pro-growth, neoliberal and deregulationist agenda. As well as sweeping away the previous Labour government's top-down housing targets and regional planning strategies in conjunction with the Localism Act 2011, the NPPF introduced a presumption in favour of sustainable development at the heart of the English planning system, which encourages local planning authorities to plan positively for new development, and approve all individual proposals wherever possible. The other core principles of the framework are of a genuinely plan-led system, empowering local people to shape their surroundings, and seeking high quality design and standards.


An outline of proposed reforms to the British planning system were published in a policy green paper by the Conservative Party in February 2010 prior to that year's general election. It included integrating the principal features of all national planning policies into one document to make the many existing guidance documents clearer and more priority focused.[1]

Following the formation of the Coalition government, on 20 December 2010, the Minister for Decentralisation, Greg Clark MP, announced a review of planning policy, designed to consolidate all policy statements, circulars and guidance documents into a single, simpler National Planning Policy Framework.[2]

A consultation draft of the NPPF was subsequently published on 25 July 2011 which raised a large number of responses and concerns from national organisations such as the National Trust.[3]

The final original version was published on 27 March 2012. Despite the pledge for a national policy of only fifty pages, the NPPF was released as a 65-page document,[4] together with a 27-page Technical Guidance document,[5] though this was still a large reduction from the previous guidance of over 1300 pages. Local planning authorities were given a 12-month transition period to ensure their plans were compliant with the new NPPF.[6]

A revised NPPF was published by the UK Government's Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government on 24 July 2018. This is the first revision of the National Planning Policy Framework since 2012. It implements around 85 reforms announced previously through the Housing White Paper, the planning for the right homes in the right places consultation and the draft revised National Planning Policy Framework consultation.[7] The revised NPPF has since been updated on 19 February 2019 following a technical consultation to redefine deliverable housing.[8] On 23 May 2019 the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government issued a Written Ministerial Statement to remove paragraph 209a from the revised National Planning Policy Framework following a legal judgement.


  1. Introduction
  2. Achieving sustainable development
  3. Plan-making
  4. Decision-making
  5. Delivering a sufficient supply of homes
  6. Building a strong, competitive economy
  7. Ensuring the vitality of town centres
  8. Promoting healthy and safe communities
  9. Promoting sustainable transport
  10. Supporting high quality communications
  11. Making effective use of land
  12. Achieving well-designed places
  13. Protecting Green Belt land
  14. Meeting the challenge of climate change, flooding and coastal change
  15. Conserving and enhancing the natural environment
  16. Conserving and enhancing the historic environment
  17. Facilitating the sustainable use of minerals



The potential negative impact of the NPPF on UK archaeology has been heavily debated, with archaeologists noting that there is likely to be considerable tension between the immediate-term impacts of the process of government deregulation in the NPPF and the medium-term impacts of another key government priority – its localism agenda as enshrined in the Localism Act of 2011, which places much greater planning control in the hands of local communities. The NPPF is likely to encourage development through its streamlined planning system, but the Localism Act of 2011 is equally likely to stall development through its commitment to local communities having a greater say in what is (and crucially is not) built in their neighbourhood, a process likely to block many developments.[9]


Friends of the Earth (FOE) has criticised the NPPF revisions for lack of environmental review, in that it makes it "virtually impossible" for councils to refuse fracking schemes, that it fails to address the problems in coal developments or on building within green belts, and that it introduces harsh rules for wind farms.[10] FOE has argued that, as the United Kingdom is still part of the EU, a strategic environmental assessment (SEA) was required as part of the revision of a public plan.[10]

The Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) has raised concerns about the extreme streamlining of the revised NPPF, indicating that it treats land as a commodity, rather than as a finite resource. CPRE said Planning is pointless if the outcomes it delivers would be little different from what would happen without a planning system.[10][11]

Planning Practice Guidance[edit]

Publication of the NPPF has been followed by the release of a wide range of online Planning Practice Guidance. [1] As of 2019, the guidance extends to over 50 categories covering a wide range of subjects including Green Belt, Light Pollution and Viability. The amount of guidance in circulation has grown significantly in recent years meaning the volume of government planning advice is similar to what existed prior to the introduction of the NPPF. Unlike the more infrequent changes to the NPPF, much of the most recent practice guidance has been issued without prior consultation or advance notification with new policy requirements increasingly being expressed through guidance updates.

2020 planning reforms[edit]

In 2020, a series of far reaching changes to Permitted Development rights and the Use Classes Order were introduced, effectively superseding a number of key NPPF provisions. The relevant statutory instruments were laid before parliament the day before the summer recess and were to come into force the day before parliament reconvened. On 27 August 2020, campaign group Rights: Community: Action applied for a judicial review of the statutory instruments on the basis that the changes introduced were unlawful citing a lack of scrutiny, consultation or impact assessments as well as a failure of the government to take account of its own independent experts.[12] The judicial review was ultimately unsuccessful.[13]


  1. ^ Conservative Party (22 February 2010). "Green Paper - Open Source Planning". Issuu. Retrieved 19 October 2020.
  2. ^ "NATIONAL PLANNING POLICY FRAMEWORK (ENGLAND)". Royal Town Planning Institute. Archived from the original on 9 June 2012. Retrieved 24 May 2012.
  3. ^ "Hands Off Our Land: stop this planning free-for-all, National Trust warns". The Telegraph. 14 November 2011. Archived from the original on 15 November 2011. Retrieved 24 May 2012.
  4. ^ "National Planning Policy Framework". Communities and Local Government. Retrieved 24 May 2012.
  5. ^ "Technical Guidance to the National Planning Policy Framework". Communities and Local Government. Archived from the original on 30 May 2012. Retrieved 24 May 2012.
  6. ^ "National Planning Policy Framework unveiled". Planning Portal. Retrieved 24 May 2012.
  7. ^ "Revised National Planning Policy Framework". Retrieved 25 July 2018.
  8. ^ "Revised National Planning Policy Framework". GOV.UK. Retrieved 30 April 2019.
  9. ^ Flatman, Joe; Perring, Dominic (2012). "The National Planning Policy Framework and Archaeology: A Discussion". Papers from the Institute of Archaeology. 22: 4–10. doi:10.5334/pia.390.
  10. ^ a b c Laker, Laura (4 September 2018). "Government faces court action over 'illegal' planning policy". Archived from the original on 4 September 2018.
  11. ^ "Full CPRE response to National Planning Policy Framework consultation". The Campaign to Protect Rural England. 2018. Archived from the original on 4 September 2018.
  12. ^ "Planning: Judicial Review claim issued". 27 August 2020.
  13. ^ "Campaigners lose bid to halt planning reform". Retrieved 19 July 2021.

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