Friday, 9 November 2018

Interpreting the NPPF

I didn’t have time to blog on it at the time, but I imagine that most readers of this blog are well aware that the revised version of the National Planning Policy Framework was published on 24 July 2018. This is the first revision of the National Planning Policy Framework since 2012. Users are already referring to the document as “NPPF2” to distinguish the current version from the earlier version which it has replaced.

Since the first version of the NPPF was published, numerous problems of interpretation and practical application of the policies that it contained have had to be determined by planning inspectors, and some of these have inevitably reached the courts, so much so that quite a body of judicial rulings has been built up over the past six years. We now have the added task of making sense of the new version of the NPPF, and of determining to what extent previous judgments apply to this new version.

It is a formidable task for planning professionals who are concerned with day-to-day development management issues. But help is at hand. Bath Publishing have recently published an extremely useful guide under the title Interpreting the NPPF written by planning barrister Alistair Mills of Landmark Chambers. Alistair is a rising star in the planning law firmament, and had already established a reputation as an expert on the NPPF before his current book was published.

This brief blog post is not intended to be a review of the book as such, but I can strongly recommend this guide as a useful, indeed essential, tool in understanding and applying the ministerial policy set out in the NPPF. There is no waffle or padding in the text; it summarises the various points it discusses concisely, but with great clarity.

After discussing the nature and status of National Planning Policy, the author goes on to explain the interpretation of policy, the concept of ‘sustainable development’ and the principles of Plan-making and Decision-taking. There then follow ten chapters on specific areas of policy, including residential development, the Green Belt, the Natural Environment, the Historic Environment, and Minerals, among several others. The book then concludes with a chapter on challenging planning decisions involving interpretation of the NPPF.

This is a book that planning professionals in both the public and private sectors will want to have on their bookshelves, and I am willing to bet that it will get very well-thumbed.

You can obtain further details of the book, and buy a copy, by visiting Bath Publishing’s website at


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