MHCLG have published a consultation on draft revisions to the NPPF with comments invited until the 27th March 2021. Most of the changes presented are in response to the Building Better Building Beautiful Commission Living with Beauty Report. Comments are also being invited on a Draft National Model Design Code published alongside the proposed changes to the NPPF.

A number of other changes to the NPPF dealing with largely minor matters are also proposed.

Tom Looker from our Urban Design Team will be providing a separate note on the Draft Model Design Code and its potential implications.

At Pegasus Group, our Urban Design Teams across our offices are well place to provide advice to clients on the implications of the Model Design Code all the way from strategic promotions to outline, reserved matters applications and on to implementation. With the changes to the NPPF and the National Design Guidance and Model Design Code, it is more important than ever to shape a design vision on projects from the outset that can be realistically implemented.

In terms of the NPPF changes, notable amendments dealing with Building Better Building Beautiful include:

  • A requirement for strategic policies to set out an overall strategy for the pattern, scale and design quality of places (para 20);
  • Amendments to ensure that larger scale developments are supported by necessary infrastructure and facilities including a genuine choice of transport modes and requiring strategic plan making authorities to set out clear expectations of the quality of places to be created, ensuring that masterplans and codes are used (para 72);
  • a revision to para 91 to clarify expectations for attractive pedestrian and cycle routes in developments to provide walkable neighbourhoods;
  • Paragraph 104 of the NPPF is proposed to be amended to support the Commission’s recommendations on encouraging walking and cycling;
  • to stop local planning authorities relying on outdated highway guidance there are amendments to para 108 (c) to reflect the National Design Guide and Model Design Code;
  • In relation to achieving well-designed places, there are amends to paras 124 and 126 to include the word ‘beautiful’ and to allow for a model community engagement process on design standards, with the National Design Guide and Model Design Code being used to guide decisions on applications in the absence of local codes;
  • the Government’s ambition for new streets to be tree lined is set out in a new paragraph 129;
  • a new paragraph 132 makes it clear that development that is not well designed should be refused and that significant weight should be given to development which reflects local design policies and government guidance;

Aside from the changes relating to design matters, other proposed changes to note include:

  • a change to footnote 8 to remove outdated references to Housing Delivery Test transitional arrangements;
  • where authorities are looking at new settlements and urban extensions, they are advised of the need to look over a 30-year time frame (para 22);
  • an amendment to para 32 dealing with soundness to refer to enabling sustainable development in accordance with the Framework and other statements of national policy – to allow Ministerial Statements to be taken into account;
  • clarifications in relation to Article 4 directions to restrict directions to the smallest area possible to encourage their appropriate and proportionate use;
  • a helpful amendment to para 64 to make clear that the requirement for 10% affordable home ownership means 10% of the total number of homes proposed on a site;
  • clarification through an amendment to para 69 to make it clear that Neighbourhood Plans can allocate sites of varying sizes, not just small/medium sites;
  • in relation to para 79 new dwellings in the countryside, the removal of the word ‘innovative’ as a basis for judgement of proposals;
  • Para 96 is proposed to be amended to stress the importance of access to a network of high quality open spaces for health and well-being;
  • for flood risk and climate change, an amendment to paras 159 and 160 to clarify that the policy applies to all flood risk sources and to move the flood vulnerability classifications from planning guidance to national policy. There is also clarification that plans should manage residual flood risk by using opportunities from new development to reduce the causes and impacts of flooding;
  • on the natural environment, amendments to clarify that the scale and extent of development in the setting of National Parks and AONBs should be sensitively located and designed to avoid adverse impacts on these designated landscapes;
  • development whose primary objective is to conserve or enhance biodiversity should be supported and that opportunities to improve biodiversity in and around other developments should be pursued as an integral part of their designs if measurable net gains can be secured;
  • on the historic environment, changes to reflect the recent Ministerial Statement on statues.

For more information about the NPPF and National Model Design Code consultation proposals can be found on the GOV.UK website or please contact Executive Director – Guy Longley.

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