What is Paragraph 80?

Paragraph 80
aerial photograph of the Leicestershire countryside

Paragraph 80 – National Planning Policy

The term Paragraph 80 refers to a section of the 2021 National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF), which sets out the principles for erecting a new isolated dwelling in the open countryside. The policy allows the possibility to gain planning permission for an exceptional piece of design that reflects the highest standards in architecture on a site that would otherwise be unsuitable for development.

Typically national planning policy is anti-development in open countryside, limiting rural development to agricultural uses. Paragraph 80 recognises the long tradition of English countryside homes and provides criteria against which modern interpretations can be assessed. 


Planning approval for a Paragraph 80 house is challenging. The burden of proof is on the design team to demonstrate that the application is exceptional architecture in line with the policy criteria.

A collaborative and flexible approach is the best route to success. Establishing a positive dialogue with the local authority, through the pre-application process, gives them early opportunity to comment on proposals and assist in steering the development.

A useful tool for Paragraph 80 applications is the Design Review panel. An independent advisory body made up of experts within the field of architecture. The panel offer impartial advice and design recommendations to improve the quality of a proposal. In addition, a report authored by the panel is carefully considered by the local planning authorities during the assessment of exceptional design.


Not every site is suitable for a Paragraph 80 house. Chances of success are improved if the site has previously been developed for residential purposes, such as a former country house.

The most sensitive locations, those with special land designations (Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty or AONB, flood zone, Green Belt or conservation area), and are usually the most challenging. However, adjacency to these characteristics can assist with the building’s narrative.

Paragraph 80
National Paragraph 80 Map


The story used to explain the architectural response. A design that is site targeted and driven, will require extensive analysis of the context and it’s history to generate a narrative. Uniqueness and site specificity increase the chances of success.

Sustainability is now implicit in the design criteria of Paragraph 80 houses.

The narrative is not limited to the building design but extends to include the landscape design. How the proposal fully integrates into its surroundings.

Local support

Consulting local people, including the parish council, at an early stage makes them feel heard and gives them an opportunity to make suggestions. In order to gain support for planning applications during the consultation period.  


A pre-application submission can reduce risk. It offers early insight from the planning authority.

Design reviews take time and do have an associated cost, however they remove some of the risk associated with the planning system. The final recommendation and decision is influenced by experienced designers who have spent time understanding the proposal.

It can be challenging to manage client expectation. The design team has to be mindful of the client’s preferences. Whilst the client needs to be clear that certain design strategies are likely to offer a better chance of success.

Next Steps

Call 0116 254 1830 if you’d like to discuss a potential Paragraph 80 project. For alternative routes to building a home in the countryside, see our recent journal post.