Updates to the National Planning Policy Framework (December 2023)

Section 1: Introduction

– Paragraph 1: Added “Preparing and maintaining up-to-date plans should be seen as a priority.”

– Paragraph 6: Added reference to “the Written Ministerial Statement on Affordable Homes Update (24 May 2021) which contains policy on First Homes.”


Section 2: Achieving sustainable development

– Paragraph 14: Updates to wording on Neighbourhood Plans. Where no local development plan policies apply, “the adverse impact of allowing development that conflicts with the neighbourhood plan is likely to significantly and demonstrably outweigh the benefits, provided the following apply:

a) the neighbourhood plan became part of the development plan five years or less before the date on which the decision is made (previously, this was two years or less); and
b) the neighbourhood plan contains policies and allocations to meet its identified housing requirement (see paragraphs 67-68), where that requirement has been identified within five years or less of the date on which the decision is made.”

The following points have been removed:

c) “the local planning authority has at least a three year supply of deliverable housing sites (against its five year housing supply requirement, including the appropriate buffer as set out in paragraph 74); and
d) the local planning authority’s housing delivery was at least 45% of that required10 over the previous three years.”

Section 3: Plan-making

Strategic policies

– Paragraph 20: Added “(to ensure outcomes support beauty and placemaking)”.

Section 5: Delivering a sufficient supply of homes

– Paragraph 60: Added “The overall aim should be to meet as much of an area’s identified housing need as possible, including with an appropriate mix of housing types for the local community.”

– Paragraph 61: Added “The outcome of the standard method is an advisory starting-point for establishing a housing requirement for the area (see paragraph 67 below).”

– New paragraph added (62): “The standard method incorporates an uplift which applies to certain cities and urban centres, as set out in national planning guidance. This uplift should be accommodated within those cities and urban centres themselves except where there are voluntary cross boundary redistribution agreements in place, or where it would conflict with the policies in this Framework27.”

“27 In doing so, strategic policies should promote an effective use of land and optimise site densities in accordance with chapter 11. This is to ensure that homes are built in the right places, to prioritise brownfield and other under-utilised urban sites, to utilise existing infrastructure, and to allow people to live near the services they rely on, making travel patterns more sustainable.”

– Paragraph 67 (formerly 66): Added “The requirement may be higher than the identified housing need if, for example, it includes provision for neighbouring areas, or reflects growth ambitions linked to economic development or infrastructure investment.”

Identifying land for homes

– Paragraph 70 (formerly 69): Added “b) seek opportunities, through policies and decisions, to support small sites to come forward for community-led development for housing and self-build and custom-build housing;”

– Paragraph 73 (formerly 72): Regarding exception sites, updated “Local planning authorities should support the development of exception sites for community-led development on sites that would not otherwise be suitable as rural exception sites”:

a) Added “A proportion of market homes may be allowed on the site at the local planning authority’s discretion, for example where essential to enable the delivery of affordable units without grant funding.”

– Paragraph 75 (formerly 74): Removed “The supply of specific deliverable sites should in addition include a buffer (moved forward from later in the plan period) of:

a) 5% to ensure choice and competition in the market for land; or
b) 10% where the local planning authority wishes to demonstrate a five year supply of deliverable sites through an annual position statement or recently adopted plan40, to account for any fluctuations in the market during that year; or
c) 20% where there has been significant under delivery of housing over the previous three years, to improve the prospect of achieving the planned supply”.

Maintaining supply and delivery

– Paragraph 76 (formerly 75): Updated to remove requirement for five year supply of deliverable housing sites in certain circumstances. “Local planning authorities are not required to identify and update annually a supply of specific deliverable sites sufficient to provide a minimum of five years’ worth of housing for decision making purposes if the following criteria are met:

a) their adopted plan is less than five years old; and
b) that adopted plan identified at least a five year supply of specific, deliverable sites at the time that its examination concluded.”

– New Paragraph added (77): “In all other circumstances, local planning authorities should identify and update annually a supply of specific deliverable sites sufficient to provide either a minimum of five years’ worth of housing, or a minimum of four years’ worth of housing if the provisions in paragraph 226 apply. The supply should be demonstrated against either the housing requirement set out in adopted strategic policies, or against the local housing need where the strategic policies are more than five years old. Where there has been significant under delivery of housing over the previous three years, the supply of specific deliverable sites should in addition include a buffer of 20% (moved forward from later in the plan period). National planning guidance provides further information on calculating the housing land supply, including the circumstances in which past shortfalls or over-supply can be addressed.”

– New Paragraph added (78): “Where the criteria in paragraph 76 are not met, a local planning authority may confirm the existence of a five-year supply of deliverable housing sites (with a 20% buffer if applicable) through an annual position statement which:

a) has been produced through engagement with developers and others who have an impact on delivery, and been considered by the Secretary of State; and
b) incorporates the recommendation of the Secretary of State, where the position on specific sites could not be agreed during the engagement process.”

– Paragraph 79 (formerly 76): Added sub-paragraphs:

a) “Where delivery falls below 95% of the requirement over the previous three years, the authority should prepare an action plan to assess the causes of under-delivery and identify actions to increase delivery in future years;
b) where delivery falls below 85% of the requirement over the previous three years, the authority should include a buffer of 20% to their identified supply of specific deliverable sites as set out in paragraph 77 of this framework, in addition to the requirement for an action plan.
c) where delivery falls below 75% of the requirement over the previous three years, the presumption in favour of sustainable development applies, as set out in footnote 8 of this Framework, in addition to the requirements for an action plan and 20% buffer.”

– New Paragraph Added (80): “The Housing Delivery Test consequences set out above will apply the day following the annual publication of the Housing Delivery Test results, at which point they supersede previously published results. Until new Housing Delivery Test results are published, the previously published result should be used.”

Rural Housing

– Paragraph 82 (formerly 78): Added reference to community-led development for housing: “In rural areas, planning policies and decisions should be responsive to local circumstances and support housing developments that reflect local needs, including proposals for community-led development for housing.”

Section 11: Making effective use of land

– Paragraph 124 (formerly 120): At sub-paragraph e): Added “[planning policies and decisions should] also allow mansard roof extensions on suitable properties where their external appearance harmonises with the original building, including extensions to terraces where one or more of the terraced houses already has a mansard. Where there was a tradition of mansard construction locally at the time of the building’s construction, the extension should emulate it with respect to external appearance. A condition of simultaneous development should not be imposed on an application for multiple mansard extensions unless there is an exceptional justification.”

Achieving appropriate densities

– New Paragraph added (130): “In applying paragraphs 129a and b above to existing urban areas, significant uplifts in the average density of residential development may be inappropriate if the resulting built form would be wholly out of character with the existing area. Such circumstances should be evidenced through an authority-wide design code which is adopted or will be adopted as part of the development plan.”


Section 12: Achieving well-designed and beautiful places

Paragraph 140 (formerly 135): Altered and more detail added, “Local planning authorities should ensure that relevant planning conditions refer to clear and accurate plans and drawings which provide visual clarity about the design of the development, and are clear about the approved use of materials where appropriate. This will provide greater certainty for those implementing the planning permission on how to comply with the permission and a clearer basis for local planning authorities to identify breaches of planning control. Local planning authorities should also seek to ensure that the quality of approved development is not materially diminished between permission and completion, as a result of changes being made to the permitted scheme (for example through changes to approved details such as the materials used).”

Section 13: Protecting Green Belt land

– Paragraph 145 (formerly 140): Altered to further discourage changes to Green Belt, “Once established, there is no requirement for Green Belt boundaries to be reviewed or changed when plans are being prepared or updated. Authorities may choose to review and alter Green Belt boundaries where exceptional circumstances are fully evidenced and justified, in which case proposals for changes should be made only through the plan-making process”.


Section 14: Meeting the challenge of climate change, flooding and coastal change

Planning for climate change

– New Paragraph added (164): “In determining planning applications, local planning authorities should give significant weight to the need to support energy efficiency and low carbon heating improvements to existing buildings, both domestic and non-domestic (including through installation of heat pumps and solar panels where these do not already benefit from permitted development rights). Where the proposals would affect conservation areas, listed buildings or other relevant designated heritage assets, local planning authorities should also apply the policies set out in chapter 16 of this Framework.”