The National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) is now out. Has it been worth the wait? Who has come out on top? Government? Or the National Trust, CPRE and other environmental groups? Or has it been a draw with compromise all round. Here, we present our initial assessment of the new national planning policy.

The key battles in the run-up to the NPPF’s publication have been around the Government’s new definition of sustainable development; the protection to be given to the countryside; whether brownfield land should be developed before greenfield; should planning permission be automatically granted if a local planning authority does not have an up to date Local Plan in place; and should councils have a period of grace to come to terms with the new planning policy. Kirkwells’ initial assessment of the NPPF looks at these key areas.

  • Sustainable development. No longer will this give pre-eminence to economic matters. Economic considerations will now be considered “jointly and simultaneously” with social and environmental issues.
  • The countryside. Missing from the Draft was any countryside protection. The new NPPF now recognises the “distinctive character and value of the countryside”.
  • Brownfield first,  or the development of previously developed land, also missing from the Draft is reinserted. Councils should encourage the re-use of such land and can set local targets for achieving this.
  • Local Plans. The Drafts’ automatic granting of planning permission where a Local Plan is “silent, indeterminate or out of date” has been dropped. Now permission should be granted unless “any adverse impacts of doing so would significantly and demonstrably outweigh the benefits”.
  • Transitional arrangements. The final key concession grants breathing space, in terms of significant transitional arrangements, for local councils to use their existing and emerging local plans, in conjunction with the NPPF, for decision-making.

So overall major concessions from Government. Whilst this may have a short term political price the long-term benefit in having a national policy fit for purpose is a very for all of us.

Kirkwells’ Comment will be looking in detail at the NPPF in the next few days. If the NPPF raises issues or questions for you and you need advice and assistance call Kirkwells on 01282 872570. We provide a free consultation service. Alternatively email your question to

To get a copy of NPPF click here.



©Kirkwells Town Planners and Sustainable Development Consultants based at the Lancashire Digital Technology Centre in Burnley
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