We have examined the changes in the July 2021 Revision to the National Planning Policy Framework (the government’s planning policies for England and how they should be implemented) https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/1004408/NPPF_JULY_2021.pdf

FAME does not believe any of the changes will greatly affect the work of archaeologists. There have been minor changes to the document, such as changes to paragraph numbering, and the most significant changes we have identified are as follows: 

– an increased emphases on flood control and protection (there is now an Annex 3 on this, most changes are in the new paragraph 161 but there are changes throughout the section on planning and flooding)

– more consideration for trees on streets (an all new paragraph on this – 131)

– a much stronger push for the use of design guides or codes (throughout the document but bigger changes in paragraphs 73c, 110c, 125, 128-9, 134)

– increased difficulty for local planning authorities to remove permitted development rights through Article 4 directions (paragraph 53)

– a push ‘to resolve key planning issues before applications are submitted’ for public service infrastructure works (paragraph 96)

– a potential opportunity for some of our members working in consultancy – the government’s concern about statues is now codified and now plaques, memorials or monuments are included too (whether listed or not). ‘…local planning authorities should have regard to the importance of their retention in situ and, where appropriate, of explaining their historic and social context rather than removal.’ (paragraph 198) Some of you may be called upon to help develop plans to keep such assets in place, and explain their historic context, as we believe the vagueness of what constitutes a historical statue, plaque, memorial or monument and the resourcefulness of local opposition to some development may present more work in this area than had been anticipated.

Kenneth Aitchison

CEO FAME Federation of Archaeological Managers and Employers