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What is the presumption in favour of sustainable development?

The National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) introduced the presumption in favour of sustainable development. There are three dimensions to sustainable development: economic, social and environmental and the policies in paragraphs 18 to 219, taken as a whole, constitute the Government’s view of what sustainable development in England means in practice for the planning system.

The presumption in favour of sustainable development should be seen as a golden thread running through both plan-making and decision-taking.

For plan-making this means that:

  • local planning authorities should positively seek opportunities to meet the development needs of their area;
  • Local Plans should meet objectively assessed needs, with sufficient flexibility to adapt to rapid change, unless:
    • any adverse impacts of doing so would significantly and demonstrably outweigh the benefits, when assessed against the policies in the NPPF taken as a whole; or
    • specific policies in the NPPF indicate development should be restricted.

For decision-taking this means:

  • approving development proposals that accord with the development plan without delay; and
  • where the development plan is absent, silent or relevant policies are out-of-date, granting permission unless:
    • any adverse impacts of doing so would significantly and demonstrably outweigh the benefits, when assessed against the policies in the NPPF taken as a whole; or
    • specific policies in the NPPF indicate development should be restricted.

 

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