July 2018 saw the publication of the revised National Planning Framework (NPPF), which sets out government planning policy and guidance for local planning authorities in England and Wales. The review updates the first NPPF published in 2012 to consolidate individual guidance documents and which placed sustainable development (economic, social and environmental) at its heart.
With the government trumpeting its ambition is to build 300,000 new homes a year by the mid-2020s and the revised NPPF increases its focus on quality. The aim of the NPPF is to provide planners, developers and councils with an approach to build more homes, more quickly, in right places and designed to a high standard.
Likewise, architects and developers will need to consider the best and most appropriate roofing materials since the NPPF states that planning policies and decisions should ensure developments “are visually attractive as a result of good architecture, are sympathetic to local character and history, including the surrounding built environment” and “establish or maintain a strong sense of place, using the arrangement of streets, spaces, building types and materials”.
This presents opportunities for suppliers and contractors alike to promote specialist heritage products and services for developments in or near conservation areas.
High quality design
The government says that re-focusing on the quality and design of proposals gives councils the confidence to refuse permission for developments that do not prioritise design quality nor complement their surroundings.
For example, the NPPF says that planning policies and decisions should avoid the development of isolated homes in the countryside unless, among other things, the design is “of exceptional quality, in that it is reflecting the highest standards in architecture” and “would help to raise standards of design more generally in rural areas.”
Rowland Roofing’s Quintain House project, which was winner of last year’s Roofing Award of the year, is a great example of how a beautifully-designed roof was key to getting this development over the planning approval line. Quintain House is one of a select number of newbuilds that passed the previous NPPF criteria that allows for a “building of exceptional quality or innovative nature of design”. Less than 100 homes have met this stringent standard in the past 15 years.
Other focus areas
Stronger protection for the environment
The new framework has also been updated to provide further protection for biodiversity; ensuring wildlife thrives at the same time as addressing the need for new homes.
Building the right number of homes in the right places
The framework sets out a new way for councils to calculate the housing need of their local community, in order to deliver more homes in the places where they are most needed.
Greater responsibility/ accountability for housing delivery
From November 2018 councils will have a Housing Delivery Test focused on driving up the numbers of homes actually delivered, rather than how many are planned for.
New NPPF provides backing for upward extensions
Law firm Shoosmiths says that this is designed to make use of the airspace above existing buildings where there is scope to extend them. An earlier consultation on this proposal for London considered the possibility of permitted development rights or local development orders but the preferred approach was identified as planning policies to support this type of development and it has been crystallised in the NPPF.
This change to the NPPF is therefore not a permitted development right and should not be seen as an automatic yes. It does however give support in principle to extensions above existing residential and commercial premises for new homes.
Launching the revised NPPF, Secretary of State for Communities, Rt Hon James Brokenshire MP said:
“Fundamental to building the homes our country needs is ensuring that our planning system is fit for the future. This revised planning framework sets out our vision of a planning system that delivers the homes we need. I am clear that quantity must never compromise the quality of what is built, and this is reflected in the new rules.”