Confusion over NPPF helpline - aim is to advise on process rather than what the policy means

In a letter sent to chief planning officers following the launch of the NPPF, Steve Quartermain, Chief Planner - Planning Directorate, CLG, said that the much talked-about NPPF helpline – 0303 444 5500 – had been established to “assist with questions planning authorities may have about the implications of the framework for plan-making or decision-taking”.

But on 18 April Quartermain said: “The advice is not geared at telling you: ‘This is what the policy means’.” Quartermain said that instead the helpline would give advice about the process councils can follow to test their policies for conformity against the NPPF.

He said: “What it’s geared at is trying to aid local planning authorities who might ring up and say: ‘We’ve got a plan that we’re about to submit to the Planning Inspectorate, what should we do?’”

“We’ll give you advice about the process that you can follow to test what your policies are. We can give you advice on bespoke packages that can be applied to individual circumstances.”

Quartermain said that the government intended to publish a frequently asked questions guide online shortly.