Paragraph 80 – what does this mean for my project?

Securing Planning Approval for an individual new-build dwelling within the Green Belt remains very challenging under existing planning policy rules, although certainly not impossible.

What is Paragraph 80?

Formerly known as Paragraph 79, Paragraph 80 refers to a section of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF), which sets out the government guidelines for building new isolated homes in rural areas.

In many circumstances, the locations of the proposed designs are in highly sensitive areas of the open countryside, which of course involves Green Belt but can also involve AONBs (Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty) & Heritage Areas.

It was introduced mainly to provide a possible route to approval for new-build individual country homes and would otherwise have prevented any such dwelling being built in rural areas at all, without the acceptance of very special circumstances.

In July 2021, the policy was renamed from Paragraph 79 to Paragraph 80 when the government revised the NPPF. The majority of this framework remained the same, however, there was one significant change; the design no longer needs to be “innovative”. This change gives people much more free reign as they no longer have to prove that a design is innovative which has historically been one of the most difficult elements of this planning process.

The purpose of Paragraph 80 sets a high bar for architects, as it demands an approach of the highest quality, and we are confident with our own experience and skills to be able to take on such projects and deliver excellent designs submitted under this policy. Sustainability and state-of-the-art low carbon design is also often expected to be inherent in any such proposal.

Many of these high-quality homes have been built in various locations around the country in recent years, although the success of such applications is often dependent on each specific Local Authority’s appetite for such development. Some Local Authorities are very much open to such proposals, whereas others have never approved a Paragraph 79 or 80 proposal in their area of jurisdiction.

The route is therefore not usually easy, and clients often have to be prepared to take their proposals to Planning Committee and/or Planning Appeal too, which can be a long process with no guarantee of success.

Here at Fibre Architects we have some great experience with the design of outstanding NPPF Paragraph 80 houses, and currently have one such application awaiting determination.

If you would like to discuss the potential of your project coming under the NPPF Paragraph 80 rules, please do not hesitate to get in touch with us.