Last month, the Leader of Hertsmere Borough Council, Cllr Jeremy Newmark, set out our position in response to the government’s changes to the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF).

In a statement at a full council meeting on 24 January, Cllr Newmark explained how the changes “support and reinforce our position in relation to the Green Belt as we move forward with a Revised Draft Local Plan for Hertsmere.”

Please see below questions and answers relating to the changes to the NPPF.

For further information, please email

Go back to New Draft Local Plan 2024


Do the changes to the NPPF mean we need to provide less housing in Hertsmere?

The standard method for assessing housing need remains the starting point for consideration in setting a local housing target, which is done through a Local Housing Need Assessment. The NPPF says we have to meet as much of an area’s identified housing need as possible, including with an appropriate mix of housing types for the local community.

Has the new NPPF changed national policy on the Green Belt?

In December 2022, the government proposed that authorities would not need to review their Green Belts, even if meeting housing need would be impossible without such a review. However, while the new text in paragraph 145 continues to make clear there is “no requirement for Green Belt boundaries to be reviewed or changed”, it does not explicitly state that this trumps meeting housing need. It also adds that councils can still choose to review boundaries “where exceptional circumstances” justify it - which is essentially the same as the previous policy.


What implications does this have for Hertsmere's Local Plan?

This change in wording is important as it changes the narrative significantly from that in the previous draft of the NPPF. It appears that the agreed framework principles for the Local Plan (as approved by Cabinet/Council in November) remains the correct approach for Hertsmere. In effect, we are giving greater weight to Green Belt constraints (as well as other factors), which results in setting a lower housing target and removing significantly fewer sites from the Green Belt.

Are national housing targets still mandatory? What does the new NPPF say about the standard method for calculating housing need?

The new policy makes clear that the standard method for calculating housing need is an “advisory starting point” for local authorities in generating housing numbers. This brings into policy something that has previously been only in the National Planning Practice Guidance. However, Local Planning Authorities (LPAs) must demonstrate robust evidence to justify deviating from the national targets.


What does the 2021 Census show for Hertsmere's population? Is it different from the 2014 projections on which the standard method for calculating housing need is based?

Prior to the Census, the ONS mid-year population estimate series had been pointing to lower population growth in Hertsmere than the official 2014-based projections which form the baseline in the standard method. They had been suggesting a borough population of 105,300 people in 2021, compared to 109,300 in the 2014 projections. However, the 2021 Census results showed a population of 108,100 people.

For further detailed analysis, please see the Draft report - Implications of 2021 Census on Hertsmere’s Housing Need (

Does Hertsmere still need to demonstrate a five-year housing land supply?

Authorities with an up-to-date local plan will no longer need to continually show a deliverable five-year housing land supply. In this case, ‘up-to-date’ means where the housing requirement, as set out in strategic policies, is less than five years old. This does not currently apply to Hertsmere as our current Local Plan is more than five years old. Hertsmere currently has a supply of approximately two years.

Will Hertsmere benefit from the requirements to demonstrate four-year land supply that applies to some authorities?

For the purposes of decision-making, where emerging local plans have been submitted for examination or where they have been subject to a Regulation 18 or 19 consultation which included both a policies map and proposed allocations towards meeting housing need, those authorities will only have to demonstrate a four-year housing land supply requirement. We are seeking legal advice as to whether our intended Regulation 18 consultation in spring 2024 would enable us to benefit from this reduction.

Do councils have to provide a buffer on top of their five-year housing land supply?

Standard additional ‘buffers’ of between five and 10%, which local authorities have to apply to their five-year housing land supply calculation in certain cases, have been scrapped. However, in a change to the government consultation in 2022, a 20% buffer, which can be applied if an authority fails to hit targets under the Housing Delivery Test, will still apply. The latest Housing Delivery Test results show that Hertsmere has to apply the 20% buffer and now has a ‘presumption’ in favour of sustainable development applied. This means that development proposals, which accord with the development plan, should be approved without delay unless material considerations indicate otherwise. This presumption does not apply to Green Belt sites.

Does the presumption in favour of sustainable development apply in areas covered by an up-to-date neighbourhood plan?

Yes, unless the neighbourhood plan allocates land for housing. There are currently two adopted neighbourhood plans in Hertsmere – Radlett and Shenley – but neither allocate land for housing, so these areas are treated the same as the rest of the borough.

When can development take place on brownfield land in the Green Belt?

Where previously developed land is located within the Green Belt, the NPPF sets out the circumstances in which development may not be inappropriate. This includes limited infilling or the partial or complete redevelopment of previously developed land, subject to conditions relating to the potential impact of development on the openness of the Green Belt, and the re-use of existing buildings/land in the Green Belt, provided there is no greater impact on openness. Any development considered to be inappropriate development in the Green Belt must demonstrate ‘Very Special Circumstances’ to be supported.

How does the NPPF approach energy efficiency in the adaptation of existing buildings?

LPAs “should give significant weight to the need to support energy efficiency and low carbon heating improvements to existing buildings”. This does not override heritage considerations where proposals would affect conservation areas, listed buildings or other designated heritage assets. Heritage policies should also be applied.

How should farmland, and the availability of land for food production, be considered?

The availability of agricultural land used for food production should be considered, alongside the other policies in the NPPF, when deciding what sites are most appropriate for development and allocating these through the Local Plan process.