Levelling Up Act – National Development Management Policies


Levelling Up Act - National Development Management Policies

This week, the Levelling Up and Regeneration Act 2023 is now law.

The Government considers the Act a tool to speed up planning, hold developers accountable, cut bureaucracy, and prompt councils to plan for new homes. Since its 2022 announcement, the CFPI has worked closely with parliamentarians to ensure that the Act motivates the development and maintenance of community assets.

This article, the first in a series, discusses National Development Management Policies (NDMPs), one of the most significant and controversial changes introduced by the Act.

The Levelling Up and Regeneration Act 2023 introduces National Development Management Policies (NDMPs). The Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing, and Communities will create these policies, which will work alongside local plans in deciding planning applications.

As of October 28th, 2023, the NDMP provisions in the Act are pending enforcement, awaiting accompanying regulations. So far, what we know about them is limited.

Role of NDMPs in Decision-Making:

Section 93 of the Act amends the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004. NDMPs will have equal weight to Local Plans in planning application decisions. This differs from the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) as NDMPs will have statutory footing.

Section 93 also proposes that material considerations must “strongly” indicate any deviation from the local plan or NDMPs. Local Planning Authorities will base planning decisions on both their local plan and NDMPs, with NDMPs taking precedence in conflicts.

Benefits of NDMPs:

The Government highlights two advantages:

Streamlined Planning: NDMPs are expected to hasten local plan production and improve navigability. Local Planning Authorities can focus on local issues, while national matters will be handled by central Government.

Statutory Safeguards: NDMPs act as safeguards when local plans become outdated. Unlike the NPPF, NDMPs have “clear statutory status equivalent to an up-to-date local plan,” offering a structured framework for planning decisions.

The Levelling Up and Regeneration Act 2023 marks a significant shift in our approach to planning. NDMPs may increase consistency. But until they are published, we know little about the impact they will have. The CFPI notes with concern that NDMPs would be made by the Secretary of State, exempt from the public consultation processes of Local Plans.