Perch joins the Magpies for an undisclosed fee having passed a medical and agreed terms on a four-year deal at St James' Park.
The 24-year-old, whose contract at the City Ground was due to expire next summer, can play anywhere across the back four and in midfield and his versatility is just one of the qualities which brought him to the attention of United boss Hughton.
"James is a player I've admired for some time and it's great we've been able to secure his services," said Hughton on the club's official website.
"I'm certain he'll prove to be a great addition to our squad."
Mansfield-born Perch made more than 200 appearances for Forest and also captained the side on occasion.