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Net-Zero-Carbon NPPF Imminent, As Minister Confirms Big Rethink

London Land

The government is to rewrite England’s National Planning Policy Framework to meet its net-zero-carbon targets.

Housing minister Eddie Hughes made the disclosure at an evidence session before the House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee.

The rethink is expected to take into account net-zero-carbon commitments that currently make scant appearance in the NPPF. Aligning the planning policy with wider zero-carbon objectives and energy-efficiency standards, are a priority, Planning Resource reported.

Hughes also said the government would submit a rethought planning bill, to replace the ill-fated proposals for zoning in the summer 2020 white paper, which have now been paused by Michael Gove, the newly appointed secretary of state.

Hughes, Minister for Rough Sleeping and Housing at the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, said that the time frame for both a rethought NPPF and a new bill was “relatively short”.

“We know that as part of the planning reforms we will also be doing a full review of the national planning policy framework document,” Hughes said. “The national planning policy framework document will be reviewed as part of our review of the planning process generally.

“With regard to the Government’s legislative programme, which has clearly been knocked because of the pandemic, perhaps the planning reform bill will come later than we had originally anticipated. In order to do that properly, we need to review the planning policy framework document.

“We expect that to come in reasonable time, and aligned with it will be a review of the planning policy framework document. Those things are going to be coming in the relatively near future,” he told MPs.

The government has been publicly toying with the idea of a review of the NPPF for some time. A formal consultation on changes related to homebuilding standards concluded in March.

At the time the government said: "We are not proposing a review of the National Planning Policy Framework in its entirety at this stage. A fuller review of the framework is likely to be required in due course, depending on the implementation of the government’s proposals for wider reform of the planning system.”

However, in July, in the process of agreeing the changes consulted on in March, the government indicated that a large-scope review was possible to meet net-zero-carbon targets.

You can read the transcript of the House of Commons evidence session here.