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Architect bulletin - March 2018

Published: Wednesday, 28th March 2018

Changes to the NPPF, Planning Portal partner with HSE to deliver health and safety information, Update of building control application service version 1.3. And more stories...

On 5 March 2018, the Prime Minister announced a draft update to the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF).

The draft NPPF sees policies previously proposed in the government’s housing white paper and further discussed in supplementary consultations finally becoming reality. The changes come in a government bid to drastically increase the number of new homes being built throughout the UK. With this in mind the updates are focused mainly on housing, with the specific aim to build 300,000 new homes annually.

The framework has been structurally altered to now include 17 chapters. The sections have also been re-ordered and given a new numbering system to better emphasise the government’s current priorities.

In the revised changes, plan-making has been given a larger role, in keeping with the government’s desire to ensure the system is plan-focused and plan-driven at every stage.

A notable change is the inclusion of a standardised method of calculating local housing needs, something which has been widely anticipated since the Local Plans Expert Group reported to the Secretary of State back in March 2016.

The government has also proposed allowing the development on rural exception sites to deliver housing specifically for first-time buyers or renters.

The viability assessment paragraphs of the draft NPPF have also been altered. Paragraph 58 now states that if development proposals are in line with “all the relevant policies in an up-to-date development plan”, there will be no need to submit a viability assessment. New plans published in conjunction with the new NPPF also require that all viability assessments are made publically available.

The revised NPPF makes it clear that the Green Belt margins are protected and can only be re-considered in “exceptional circumstances”, which means that “all other reasonable options for meeting [the] identified need for development” have been explored. This is something The Prime Minister touched on in her speech on the 5 March.

The current NPPF stipulates that Starter Homes built on brownfield land which would not restrict openness and which met a clear housing need could not be considered an inappropriate development. The new draft extends this permission to apply to all affordable housing developments, as explained in Paragraph 144g.

Paragraph 145 in the draft also asserts that material changes of use that do not effect openness and would not conflict with Green Belt purposes are not to be found ”inappropriate” in the Green Belt.

The revisions also include:

  • Changes to current planning obligations (including a requirement that local plans should be reviewed every five years)
  • The introduction of housing targets for councils
  • A review of the Community Infrastructure Levy
  • A change to the definition of “affordable housing”.

In his speech announcing the launch of the new NPPF, The Secretary Of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government emphasised that government wanted to create a standardised methodology for local authorities to follow when assessing housing needs. Currently councils have their own unique systems which he claimed are often “expensive or time wasting”. He implied that there will be penalties for councils which fail to hit targets and in a recent interview claimed that these penalties could include stripping councils of their ability to choose where houses are built.

Consultation on the draft ends on 10 May 2018 and the revised NPPF is expected to be published before the summer.

You can read the consultation proposals here.
Find the full draft of the NPPF text here.

We are delighted to announce a content partnership with the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and the Construction Industry Advisory Committee (CONIAC).

We have been working with both organisations to provide simple health and safety information for readers of the Planning Portal’s planning and building regulations content. This partnership is part of the Planning Portal’s ongoing mission to provide valuable, accurate and current advisory content to our audiences; to help streamline and enhance planning and building control processes for professionals and homeowners alike.

Visitors to the Planning Portal can now find information on recommendations to help ensure work can be done safely and without causing ill-health or injury.  Common construction projects currently covered include roof work, basement excavation and loft conversion.

As you may know, back in 2016 we launched our building control application service.

Recently, several aspects of the building control application service have also been improved to improve the user experience.

This service is supported by a wealth of expert guidance and information. It continues to go from strength to strength with 18,495 applications successfully submitted at time of writing and 211 local authorities linking to the service, as well as some Approved Inspectors. We have now updated this system for a second time in order to improve user experience.

If you or your clients are involved with submitting building regulations approval, why not give it a try.

As a key partner to the planning and building control sector, we take our data processing and storage responsibilities very seriously. With the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) coming into effect in just a few months, we wanted to update you on our approach and how it will affect your Planning Portal services.   

What is GDPR?

GDPR is an EU privacy law that will take effect on 25 May 2018. Anyone processing personal data will likely be affected by the GDPR. If you ever collect, record, store, use, or erase personal data from customers or contacts, the GDPR will have a significant impact your business. 

Transmitting data to local authorities

We’ve been working hard to prepare for the GDPR, including auditing our data processes and systems. We want to make sure there will be minimal impact to our services. We will continue to provide details of the changes and do our best to assist customers so they can continue to lawfully transfer and use personal data when the GDPR comes into effect.

One of the key changes is that users intending to create and submit applications on the Planning Portal website ( will need to confirm acceptance of our terms and conditions in order to register.

As part of this process we will also confirm with users that the submission of planning applications via the Planning Portal constitutes consent to transmit their (or their client’s) data to the relevant local planning authority (LPA) for the purpose of processing that application.

We will also reiterate this in the final declaration/confirmation screen (where the user is required to tick an explicit confirmation) prior to application submission. A similar statement will be included on all of our PDF-based forms.

Getting your permission to stay in touch

An integral part of GDPR compliance is getting consent from our users. Once we have consent we can contact users with relevant information about their industry as well as vital updates about our products and services. 

In order for us to continue our mission to improve planning and building control processes for all parties it is vital that we are able to communicate with our various audiences, share updates and encourage collaboration. In the coming months every planning or building control applicant will be asked to re-register. They will also be asked to select their preferences with regards to specific communications from the Planning Portal, including these bulletins.

The guidance text at the top of the 7th Community Infrastructure Levy form ‘Self Build Exemption Claim Form Part 1’ has been replaced with the following flow chart:

CIL form 7 imageThe inclusion of this flow chart means that Section B has been moved from page one of the form to page two. There have not been any changes to any of the form fields.

The above change was made at a request from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) based on user feedback. The aim is to make the forms easier to use.

Access the form

Sign up to our group on the Knowledge Hub to keep up to date with upcoming changes and improvements and also engage with other local authorities in a forum environment.

We are always looking for ways to improve our products, services and website content and better serve our community. If you have any comments or suggestions, or would like to know more about our products and services, please contact us at