• Nadia Sharif

Government Consulting on Revisions to National Policy and National Design Code

The Government has launched a consultation on its ‘Building Better, Building Beautiful’ revisions to the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) and a new draft Model Design Code, which closes on the 27th of March 2021.

Views are sought on the draft revisions to the NPPF, which are focused on implementing policy changes in response to the “Building Better, Building Beautiful Commission ‘Living with Beauty‘ ” report, in addition to other changes to the text of the Framework. The draft revisions do not propose a review of the NPPF in its entirety at this stage.


Whilst the substantive changes proposed focus on design issues and the need to achieve good design in all developments in accordance with design codes (Paragraphs 127-128; 133), there are other important revisions including to:

  • Paragraph 11(a) – The presumption in favour of sustainable development in the context of plan-making – The revision broadens the high- level objective for plans to make express reference to the importance of aligning growth with infrastructure, and the need to promote sustainable patterns of development to improve the environment and mitigate climate change, by for example making efficient use of urban land;

  • Paragraph 53 - The use of Article 4 Directions in the context of permitted development rights involving the change of use to residential: it is proposed that Article 4 Directions should only be used where essential to avoid wholly unacceptable adverse impacts, and should in all cases be confined to the smallest geographical area;

  • Paragraph 124 – The use of area- based character assessments, codes and masterplans to ensure land is used efficiently whilst creating beautiful places;

  • Paragraph 130 – The importance of trees in contributing to the character of urban environments. The revisions highlight that opportunities for new tree planting should be taken in addition to existing trees being retained where possible;

  • Paragraphs 160-162- Planning and Flood Risk – The revisions highlight the importance of taking account of flood risk in the location of all developments and the refinement of the exception test, with a new Flood Risk Vulnerability Classification;

  • Paragraph 197 – Proposals affecting heritage assets – New guidance on applications relating to the removal or alteration of historic statues or memorials;

  • Paragraph 220 – Annex 1 Implementation – Changes to the date on which the Housing Delivery Test applies as the transitional arrangements no longer apply;

  • Glossary – Changes to the definition of Green Infrastructure;

  • Annex 3 – Flood Risk Vulnerability Classification.

The consultation is also seeking views on the National Model Design Code.


The purpose of the Design Code is to provide detailed design guidance on the production of design codes, guides and policies to promote successful design, which is intended to be used as a toolkit to guide Local Planning Authorities on design parameters and issues.


It elaborates on the 10 characteristics of good design set out in the National Design Guide, which reflects the Government’s priorities and provides an overarching framework for design.


Whilst the Design Code is not a statement of national policy, it will eventually form part of the Government’s planning practice guidance.




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