The National Planning Policy Framework sets out the government’s planning policies for England and how these are expected to be applied. It provides a framework within which locally-prepared plans for housing and other development can be produced. The original version of the Framework was published in 2014. The most recent revision was issued on 20 July 2021.
The NPPF states that the purpose of the planning system is to contribute to the achievement of sustainable development. “At a very high level, the objective of sustainable development can be summarised as meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs”.
“Achieving sustainable development means that the planning system has three overarching objectives”: to help build a strong, responsive and competitive economy; ensuring that a sufficient number and range of homes can be provided to meet the needs of present and future generations; to protect and enhance our natural, built and historic environment.
Hertford is surrounded by Green Belt. The boundaries of the Green Belt were changed in the East Herts District Plan (adopted in 2018) to remove from Green Belt land on which “a sufficient number and range of homes” are being provided.
During the preparation of the District Plan the Hertford Civic Society challenged, with limited success, the interpretation of the wording of the NPPF that Local Plans should “meet “objectively assessed needs”…. unless specific policies in the Framework indicated development should be restricted (land designated as Green Belt being an example.).
The 2021 revision includes a new addition: “Development that is not well designed should be refused, especially where it fails to reflect local design policies and government guidance on design, taking into account any local design guidance and supplementary planning documents such as design guides and codes.”