The government’s new draft National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) was launched today by the prime minister, who made a personal commitment to meeting the ‘housing challenge’. However, the details of the document and accompanying announcements planned by the government each paint a very different picture.

In a radical change of policy the draft NPPF has deleted reference to the role of ‘Garden City Principles’, which enshrine a vision of resilient and genuinely affordable places. The new draft NPPF focuses on a private-sector-led development model rather than unlocking the high quality and inclusive places the nation requires. As well as removing these crucial placemaking principles, the new NPPF changes the definition of affordability to mean 80% of market rents and prices, a figure which is simply unaffordable for the vast number of people on medium and low incomes.

It also deregulates the Local Plan system in favour of light-touch, strategic plans, making it no longer clear where vital place-making standards on health and wellbeing will sit.

The document has recognised the need to reform the viability test, which was previously being used to remove large amounts of genuinely affordable homes. It remains to be seen whether this will make any difference to hard-pressed local authorities trying to secure good outcomes for local communities.

In other areas, the NPPF has downgraded the planning system’s obligation to deliver on the provisions of the Climate Act 2008.

TCPA Chief Executive Kate Henderson said:

“Taken together, the new NPPF fails to secure a sustainable vision for the future. It is deeply disappointing that government has removed the reference to ‘Garden City Principles’ at a time when councils across the country  are embarking on new garden villages, towns and cities, and when government has announced the delivery of five new garden towns. Without reference to the Garden City Principles, the government risks the creation of soulless housing estates, not the high-quality, inclusive and genuinely affordable new communities we desperately need. The government must think again to restore inclusive planning for the benefit of everyone.”


Notes to editors

1. The Town and Country Planning Association www.tcpa.org.uk (TCPA) is an independent campaigning charity calling for more integrated planning based on the principles of accessibility, sustainability, diversity and community cohesion. The TCPA puts social justice and the environment at the heart of the debate about planning policy, housing and energy supply. We inspire government, industry and campaigners to take a fresh perspective on major issues including climate change and regeneration.

2. For further information, please contact Jack Mulligan at the TCPA on 07825 707 546 or [email protected].