National Planning Policy Framework

A policy document which is intended to radically simplify the planning system

9 May 2012

The National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) was published on 27th March 2012, following the circulation of a highly controversial consultation draft published in July of 2011. The document is intended radically to simplify the planning system and promote sustainable economic growth by making it easier for businesses and housing developers to obtain planning permissions. It is, in addition, part of the Government’s “localism agenda”, intended to increase the involvement of local people in planning, but with tight constraints on their freedom of action.

The consultation draft gave rise to a vigorous campaign which included Civic Voice, individual civic societies, the Campaign to Protect Rural England and the National Trust. The final policy document, which came into immediate effect subject to some limited transitional arrangements, included most of the changes which respondents to the consultation had been calling for.

The main document is only 65 pages long. It remains to be seen whether the removal of most of the material which had been included in former planning policy statements will speed up or hinder the planning application process. Some commentators have suggested that the lack of detail will lead to much more litigation. In some local authority areas, the complete absence of a statutory Local Plan is likely to be a complicating factor. However, Oxford City Council is not one of these.

Oxford Civic Society will continue to monitor the implementation of the NPPF and welcomes comments from members and the public on its impact.