Emma Jones

Emma Jones

Emma has over 20 years’ expertise supporting clients to find creative and commercial town planning solutions.

NPPF July 2021 – What’s New?

In the midst of a heatwave and at 5pm 20 July 2021 a revised National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) was published along with the National Model Design Code (NMDC) and the launch of an Office for Place.

Government confirmed  that changes to NPPF July 2021 are intended to:

  • “make beauty and place-making a strategic theme in the NPPF
  • set out the expectation that Local Authorities produce their own design codes and guides setting out design principles which new development in their areas should reflect
  • ask for new streets to be tree-lined
  • improve biodiversity and access to nature through design
  • put an emphasis on approving good design as well as refusing poor quality schemes”

We braved the office during the summer heat to summarise the key changes for you. The previously consulted upon changes primarily relate to design, article 4 directions, heritage and sustainability. 

So what’s new?


Paragraph 129 in the revised NPPF confirms that design codes can be prepared for entire areas or neighbourhoods, or for individual sites.  They can be prepared by local authorities and also others – such as developer’s and community groups.  They must be developed in conversation with local communities, in order to reflect local aspirations. Where local codes are absent, the NMDC is a material consideration.

Policy has also been strengthened to refuse development that is ‘not-well designed’ rather than just for ‘poor design’ as previously required. 

Conversely, significant weight should be given to:

a) development which reflects local design policies and government guidance on design, taking into account any local design guidance and supplementary planning documents such as design guides and codes; and/or
b) outstanding or innovative designs which promote high levels of sustainability, or help raise the standard of design more generally in an area, so long as they fit in with the overall form and layout of their surroundings.

Article 4 Directions

Government has acted to prevent the use of sweeping Article 4 Directions by the local authorities using them to restrict (in particular) the new permitted development Class MA right.  New paragraph 53 now states:
‘The use of Article 4 directions to remove national permitted development rights should:
• where they relate to change from non-residential use to residential use, be limited to situations where an Article 4 direction is necessary to avoid wholly unacceptable adverse impacts (this could include the loss of the essential
core of a primary shopping area which would seriously undermine its vitality and viability, but would be very unlikely to extend to the whole of a town centre)
• in other cases, be limited to situations where an Article 4 direction is necessary to protect local amenity or the well-being of the area (this could include the use of Article 4 directions to require planning permission for the demolition of local facilities)
• in all cases, be based on robust evidence, and apply to the smallest geographical area possible.’


Following a spate of protests and removals in recent years, Government has strengthened protection for monuments. New paragraph 198 states:
“In considering any applications to remove or alter a historic statue, plaque, memorial or monument (whether listed or not), local planning authorities should have regard to the importance of their retention in situ and, where appropriate, of explaining their historic and social context rather than removal”.

Sustainability and Environment

Paragraph 11 (a) regarding the ‘presumption in favour of sustainable development’ has been amended to include reference to climate change and the effective use of land in urban areas. It states:

‘all plans should promote a sustainable pattern of development that seeks to: meet the development needs of their area; align growth and infrastructure; improve the environment; mitigate climate change (including by making effective use of land in urban areas) and adapt to its effects’


The wording of Paragraph 180(d) has been strengthened to state that opportunities to improve biodiversity should (replacing encouraged) be integrated into a design especially where they “enhance public access to nature where this is appropriate”.


Paragraph 160 clarifies that the sequential test should take into account all potential sources of flood risk. Also the Flood Risk Vulnerability Classification has moved from guidance to be included within the NPPF at Annex 3

Designated Landscape Settings

A significant new requirement has been added at paragraph 176. This has extended the protection of designated landscapes to include their settings.  Now development in the setting of  National Parks, the Broads and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, is required to be sensitively located and designed to avoid adverse impact upon the setting of these designated landscapes.

Get in touch here if you would like to know more about how the policy changes in NPPF July 2021 will apply to your proposal. 

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