31 March 2021

We recently responded to a consultation on revisions to the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) and proposals for a new national design code.

The proposed changes to the NPPF are relatively few in number, but nevertheless include some important revisions that we very much welcome. 

We were particularly pleased to see new text requiring development in the setting of protected landscapes to be sensitively located and designed and a new paragraph focusing onthe importance of trees

We also expressed our support for new text to reinforce the need for sustainable patterns of development, environmental enhancements, public access to nature and mitigating climate change as well as new text requiring development to provide a choice of transport options and active travel. We welcome greater recognition of the wildlife and climate change benefits of open space and a proposed requirement for new development to make as much use as possible of natural flood management techniques

We expressed concerns about some of the proposed changes, such as the failure to recognise environmental capacity when deriving local housing targets, the prematurity of some proposals given the outcomes of other related consultations are not yet known. We also suggested some additions to help further strengthen proposed new text and in some cases, to strengthen existing text. 

We also welcomed the proposed new national design code, which, it is intended, will guide local authorities in creating locally-specific design codes for their area. There is much to be welcomed in the proposed code, but we highlighted the need for it to be relevant to rural as well as urban areas and provided detail on how it could better take into account landscape and light pollution and the protection of dark skies. We also emphasised the level of resources that would be needed to secure genuine and meaningful public engagement in the process of preparing local design codes. 

You can see our full response here 

This consultation was part of the Government’s wider review of the planning system and further consultations are expected in due course.