25 Jul 2018

The new revised National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) was delivered and came into force on 24 July 2018. The Government's response to the consultation on the revised framework notes that it has made a number of important changes in response to the consultation which closed on 10 May.  

Stephen Dagg, Managing Associate, comments on the provisions for refusal of planning permission on transport grounds:

"The 2012 NPPF (paragraph 32) was curiously worded because its starting point was Transport Assessments.  Perhaps inadvertently therefore went on to focus attention on cost effective mitigation, providing for refusal only where residual cumulative impacts were severe. 

"This appeared to give scope to argue that a development should be allowed to proceed in circumstances where the development would give rise to significant infrastructure impacts which would be costly to provide and the residual cumulative impacts of development were just short of severe – even in circumstances where there were unresolved highway safety concerns.

"Surprisingly, the new NPPF (paragraph 109**) contains, for the first time, express acknowledgement that planning permission may be refused on highway safety grounds.

"This provides useful clarification of national policy in relation to highway safety, supporting the position that highway safety is an important material consideration which should properly take into account and give due weight.  As a result it is clearly more in line with the practice of local planning authorities, although as a result it is less developer friendly than paragraph 32 of the 2012 NPPF.

"For the moment, however, it is not clear that the Government has made good on its promise to "to make clear that the 'severe' test relates to road capacity rather than highway safety".  Until the promised advice on this test is provided in revisions to national planning guidance, this uncertainty will remain."  

**Paragraph 109 of the newly released 2018 NPPF states: "Development should only be prevented or refused on highways grounds if there would be an unacceptable impact on highway safety, or the residual cumulative impacts on the road network would be severe."