Planning Policies National Plans
In this section are documents relating to the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF)
The National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) came into operation in March 2012, reducing 1000 pages of national planning policy to just 52. Local Planning Authorities in England (i.e. Councils with local planning responsibilities) were given twelve months to put in place up-to-date Local Plans consistent with these national policies.
In the event, most Councils failed to meet that deadline (it was a pretty tall order) and, even now, many Councils are still working with pre-2012 Local Plans. As a consequence, due weight is now given to relevant policies in existing Local Plans “according to the degree of consistency with the Framework” - in other words, NPPF policies take precedence where there is any conflict or inconsistency. Where Local Plans are silent (as is often the case with policies on pub protection, especially in urban areas) then Framework policies apply.
The Framework contains several policies which are potentially very helpful to pubs – notably Section 70, which states that Local Planning Authorities (LPAs) should “guard against unnecessary loss of valued facilities where they would reduce the community's ability to meet its day-to-day needs” and should “ensure that established shops, facilities and services are retained for the benefit of the community”. The definition of community facilities earlier in the section includes public houses. This policy applies to all community pubs, not just those in rural areas.
Section 28 calls on LPAs to promote the retention and development of local services and community facilities in villages such as public houses. Section 23 tells them to recognise town centres as the heart of their communities and pursue policies to support their viability and vitality.
At present, many Councils, particularly urban ones, have no policies which afford the Section 70 level of protection to pubs. The scale of pub losses in many towns and cities means that such Councils might now wish that they did have such local policies so that they could more easily refuse applications to change the use of pubs. The fact that the NPPF policies now take precedence enables them to do this, even if they have no explicit policy of their own.
A detailed summary of the pub-related policies in the NPPF can be found here - National Planning Policy Framework.