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The National Planning Policy Framework

  • The National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) sets out the Government’s planning policies for England and how these are expected to be applied
  • The NPPF covers a range of planning matters, such as planning for housing, delivering a wide choice of quality homes and the requirement of good design. It does not contain specific policies on nationally significant infrastructure projects, for which particular considerations apply, as these are determined in accordance with the Planning Act 2008, and also the NPPF does not contain specific waste policies
  • The NPPF has a specific focus on sustainable development, and in particular “supporting strong, vibrant and healthy communities, by providing the supply of housing required to meet the needs of present and future generations”
  • Housing is specifically covered in the NPPF at Section 4, where the aim is to boost significantly the supply of housing, deliver a wide choice of high quality homes, widen opportunities for home ownership and create sustainable, inclusive and mixed communities. There is no specific mention of community-led housing

The need for planning permission

  • Planning permission is only needed if the work being carried out meets the statutory definition of ‘development’ which is set out in section 55 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990. This includes the carrying out of buildings, engineering, mining or other operations in, on, over or under land, or the making of any material change in the use of any buildings or other land
  • Section 55(2) of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 sets out the categories of work that do not amount to ‘development’, which include but are not limited to interior alterations and building operations that do not materially affect the external appearance of a building
  • Therefore, there are certain types of work that can be carried out without needing planning permission, and these works are known as permitted development rights. The principal order for permitted development rights is The Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (England) Order 2015, which sets out classes of development for which a grant of planning permission is automatically given, provided that no restrictive condition is attached or the development is exempt from the permitted development rights
  • An explanatory memorandum, which details the purpose, legislative background and policy context of the order has also been produced and can be read alongside the 2015 Order.
  • There is a distinction between houses, flats and other buildings insofar as permitted development rights are concerned, and each project will need to be reviewed on an individual basis. Furthermore, there’s a restriction in the use of permitted development rights for designated areas (e.g. a conservation area or a National Park)
  • For residential developments to be undertaken by CLH groups, the Planning Portal’s interactive guide will prove helpful in determining whether permission is needed

Local Plans and Neighbourhood Plans

The Local Plan, as defined in the NPPF is “the plan for the future development of the local area, drawn up by the local planning authority in consultation with the community”. The Local Plan’s purpose is to set out local planning policies and identify how land is used, determining what will be built where

Adopted local plans provide the framework for development (which should also be consistent with the NPPF) across England, and each local planning authority should produce a Local Plan for its area. Further useful guidance on the Local Plan can be found under paragraphs 150 to 185 of the NPPF[PD9] 

The Neighbourhood Plan, which is also defined in the NPPF, is “a plan prepared by a Parish Council or Neighbourhood Forum for a particular neighbourhood area (made under the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004)”. Such a plan, once adopted, is a material consideration for the purposes of a planning application

Neighbourhood planning is not a legal requirement but a right which communities in England can choose to use, and it serves as allowing communities to play a much stronger role in shaping their area

Local Development Orders, Neighbourhood Development Orders and Community Right to Build Orders are also planning tools which can facilitate community-led housing in certain circumstances.

Last updated in April 2018