The new National Policy Planning Framework (NPPF) was published by the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) on 27 March 2012. It replaced over 1,000 pages of existing government planning policy with a single 59 page document.
The NPPF comes into effect immediately and must be taken into account in the preparation of local and neighbourhood plans and must be a material consideration when making planning decisions.
Under transitional arrangements councils have been given twelve months to come up with a new local plan and existing local plans will remain in place in the meantime (unless they are over eight years old).
Further advice on practical implications for councils can be obtained from the Planning Advisory Service, that is part of the Local Government Association (LGA) and funded by DCLG to give help to councillors and officers.