The key changes are to be found within paragraphs 11, 22, 128-129, 131 and Annex 1. The presumption in favour of sustainable development now includes an express reference to improving the environment as well as mitigating and adapting to climate change and its effects (including by “making effective use of land in urban areas”). There is also an express requirement for growth and infrastructure to “align”.
These insertions to paragraph 11(a) NPPF are likely to result in those topics gaining even greater prominence in local plan examinations. For those promoting large-scale greenfield allocations through a local plan examination, particular care should be taken to ensure those considerations are explicitly addressed in any Hearing Statement, with cross-references to the supporting evidence.
Paragraph 22 NPPF requires policies for “larger-scale” development to look further ahead than the typical 15-year plan period, to at least 30 years. Regrettably, there is no definition of “larger-scale”.
Paragraphs 128-129 and 131 introduce objectives which the government expects to be addressed by policies, these include:
· A requirement to prepare a design guide or code.
· A requirement to ensure new streets are tree-lined (unless inappropriate).
· A requirement for trees to be incorporated elsewhere (e.g. parks and community orchards).
· A requirement to ensure the long-term maintenance of newly-planted trees and that existing trees are retained where possible.
The principal changes to the implementation arrangements at Annex 1 are as follows:
· The larger-scale development policy at paragraph 22 only applies to plans which had yet not reached the Regulation 19 stage at the point the revised NPPF was published (on 20 July 2021).
· The housing delivery test results apply the day after they are published, at which point they supersede the previous results. The previous results will apply up until that point.
· The tilted balance at paragraph 11(d) NPPF will apply to housing schemes if the HDT results were below 45% on the February 2020 results, or below 75% on the January 2021 results.