The NPPF – Top Changes You May Have Missed

With the publication of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) last week comes some changes to the way the planning system will work and what national policies will guide local development.

Whilst the issue of sustainable development and the presumption in favour of such development has been much discussed, below are Brooke Smith Planning’s top changes we have spotted in the NPPF which you may have missed:

No 6: For the next 12 months “.…decision-takers may continue to give full weight to relevant policies adopted since 2004 even if there is a limited degree of conflict with this Framework.” (Annex 1 Paragraph 214)

Comment: While Council’s have been given a 12 month period of grace to get an adopted Core Strategy into place, what happens if they do not manage to? Will this be planning by appeal as Councils argue their local policy takes precedence over the NPPF?

No 5: Local authorities should “identify and update a supply of specific deliverable sites sufficient to provide five years worth of housing against their housing requirements with an additional buffer of 5%…. or where there has been a record of persistent under delivery of housing, local planning authorities should increase the buffer to 20%” (Paragraph 47)

Comment: This increased requirement in annual housing supply may leave some Councils struggling, particularly those who have failed to deliver adequate housing in the past.

No 4: Reference is made to new isolated homes in the countryside, including those of exceptional quality or innovation and “where the development would re-use redundant or disused buildings and lead to an enhancement to the immediate setting….” (Paragraph 55)

Comment: By changing the presumption from offices to residential this appears to be good news for anyone planning a barn-conversion in the countryside or who have a previous office conversion sitting their ‘to let’ and empty.

No 3: The guidance states that “Local communities through local and neighbourhood plans should be able to identify for special protection green areas of particular importance to them” (Paragraph 76)

Comment: This will allow local residents to rule out new development other than in very special circumstances. Does this threaten the potential to develop any land which communities feel should be classed as a green space – even when in private ownership?

No 2: The Green Belt guidance has changed, with a number of subtle changes including the

“provision of appropriate facilities for outdoor sport, outdoor recreation and for cemeteries…; ….the extension or alteration of a building provided it does not result in disproportionate additions over and above the size of the original building and the ….limited infilling or the partial or complete redevelopment of previously developed sites (brownfield land)….” (Paragraph 89)

Comment: Whilst subtle, these changes potentially allow more development to take place in the Green Belt than previously under PPG2, which only permitted essential facilities; limited additions to a dwelling and the development only major existing developed sites in the Green Belt.

No 1: Local planning authorities “.…should normally approve planning applications of change of use to residential uses and any associated development from commercial buildings (currently in the B use classes) where there is an identified need for additional housing in the area, provided that there are not strong economic reasons why such development would be inappropriate“ (Paragraph 51)

Comment: Whilst this does not give such wide ranging allowances as a change to the Permitted Development Rights would, it does, in theory, allow a change from offices and other ‘B’ uses to residential.

Should you require further advice on the NPPF please do not hesitate to give us a call on 0121 693 8900 or email

The NPPF can be found at the: Communities and Local Government website