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National Planning Policy Framework – some welcome changes

Anne Henshaw
By Anne Henshaw
10th January 2024

The eventual publication of the amended version of the NPPF (National Planning Policy Framework) on 19th December 2023, along  with Michael Gove’s  statement, (presentation of it at the RIBA (Royal Institute of British Architects), gave rise to post Christmas CPRE examination in detail of the content.

The good news was the changes to the requirement of a 5 year housing land supply to a 4 year one for councils like Wiltshire who had reached the Reg 19 stage of their Local Plan Review.


Much emphasis is made in the new NPPF on speeding up the planning process.  It does appear that the government is going to increase funding to local planning departments which will certainly help. An area of concern coming out of speeding up decisions is the greater delegation to officers. The question of whether councillors on planning committees are properly informed when facing more complex applications at committee or when receiving pages of reports, is doubtful.  In order to help them fully understand, and if necessary, question the officer’s reports and recommendations, it is important that applicants should provide much more information at the pre-application stage when meetings take place between officers, applicants and councillors.  This better informs all parties and helps speed up the process by avoiding last minute questions on grey areas.


However, no reference was made to the fact that not all delays are caused by the local planning authority and that many emanate from the developers.  The question of housing targets, and the use of the Standard Methodology for their calculation, was addressed by Michael Gove but kicked into the long grass. This is allegedly due to waiting for the ONS population figures from 2021, whose most important aspect will be the up to date demographics.

Affordable Housing

What is also missing is a proper definition of affordable housing.  This is a big problem which varies from area to area, and even within areas.  CPRE believes that instead of a general housing target there should be a national target for affordable housing.

Improvments to Local Authority Planning Departments

Michael Gove described how he wishes to see a League Table for Local Authorities.  This would reflect how much they have speeded up dealing with applications and make them more accountable for delivery.  There is also to be a Skills Delivery Fund which it is hoped will attract more entrants to Planning training.