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| 2 minutes read

Changes to the National Planning Policy Framework and further changes to come

The Government’s updated National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) published in December 2023 focuses on housing delivery, efficient land use and achieving well-designed and beautiful places. 

The December 2023 NPPF places greater emphasis on using the standard method for assessing local housing need. There may be exceptional circumstances relating to particular demographic characteristics requiring an alternative approach, however, the standard method is the starting point. 

There is a focus on community-led development. This is a newly defined term in the December 2023 NPPF comprising a development taken forward by a not-for-profit organisation set up to meet the housing needs of its members and the local community. 

  1. LPAs should support small and medium sites for community-led development. 
  2. Sites which would not be suitable for housing as rural exception sites, should be supported by LPAs as sites for community-led development. This replaces the support for entry-level exception sites suitable for first time buyers.
  3. Such community led development should incorporate one or more types of affordable housing, market homes may be allowed on the site at the LPA’s discretion (for example if market housing would enable the delivery of affordable housing without grant funding). 

LPA are still required to provide a 5-year land supply to provide 5 years’ worth of housing as against their housing requirement. However, LPAs that meet the requirements in paragraph 226 only need to demonstrate a 4-year housing land supply. This applies to LPAs with an emerging local plan. When identifying housing land supply, LPAs can apply the 20% buffer where housing delivery has fallen below 85% of the requirement over 3 years. The other 5% and 10% buffers have been removed in the December 2023 NPPF. 

LPA’s planning policies should avoid homes being built at low densities, the exception is when significant uplifts in density may be inappropriate and out of character for the area. The December 2023 NPPF adds that this exception must be evidenced in the authority-wide design code. 

Design codes are referenced often in the December 2023 NPPF, particularly in reference to achieving well-design beautiful places. This also reflects the Government’s new requirements on LPAs to produce design codes in adherence to the National Model Design Code. 

In respect of the green belt, once this is established, there is no requirement for green belt boundaries to be reviewed and/or changed. An LPA may still choose to review and alter green belt boundaries in exceptional circumstances, these must be fully justified through the planning making process, rather than simply through updating existing plans. 

More changes to come…

On 13 February 2024 the Government issued consultation on changes to planning policy for brownfield development.  Subject to the outcome of the consultation we can expect to see further changes to the NPPF including favouring development on previously developed land and a requirement for LPAs to take a flexible approach in applying policies relating to internal layouts of development which might otherwise inhibit making the efficient use of land.


real estate & projects, affordable housing, planning, regeneration, businesses, housing associations, local government, registered providers, housing sector