Government Policy and guidance takes the form of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) and the Planning Practice Guidance (PPG) together with other statements of policy. The NPPF sets out the Government's economic, environmental and social planning policies for England. The policies set out in this framework apply to the preparation of local and neighbourhood plans and to decisions on planning applications. The NPPF covers a wide range of topics, including, housing, business and economic development, transport and the natural environment.
The NPPF introduced the presumption in favour of sustainable development which means that development which is sustainable should be approved without delay. There are three pillars of sustainability (social, economic and environmental) and the Framework contains a number of sections which, taken as a whole, constitute the Government’s view of what sustainable development means in practice. Further information on the NPPF is available in this briefing note.
The Planning Practice Guidance adds further context to the NPPF and it is intended that the two documents should be read together. The PPG contains a number of pieces of guidance including key topics such as what should be included in Local Plans, design, neighbourhood planning and the Duty to Cooperate.
In 2011 the regional tier of planning (with the exception of London) was abolished and strategic plan making is now undertaken at a local level through the Duty to Cooperate. The Duty to Co-operate relates to strategic issues where authorities must co-operate with adjacent authorities and bodies to consider what is relevant beyond their boundaries, for example planning for infrastructure across boundaries and the use of land that would have a significant impact on at least two local planning areas such as housing development and highways. Before a Local Plan is adopted, the Planning Authority preparing it must demonstrate to the Inspector (“the Examiner”) chairing the Examination that this Duty to Cooperate has been fulfilled by adequate negotiation with other authorities.
The regional tier of planning remains in London. The London Plan is the overall strategic plan for London and it sets out a framework for development of the capital to 2036. London Boroughs’ Local Plans need to conform to the London Plan as it forms part of the development plan for Greater London. The London Plan includes a regional vision, broad development principles, overall housing targets, as well as identifying major themes, issues and broad development locations.