On 5th March 2018, the Government published a draft version of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) for consultation. Alongside the Draft NPPF, the government published draft guidance for viability assessments as well as a new consultation on developer contributions to support housing delivery.
There have been both major and minor changes, some of which have been consulted on previously. Here’s our summary of some of the main changes proposed.
- Gavin Barwell’s Written Ministerial Statement protecting provisions within Neighbourhood Plans has been included. This added protection applies for the first 2 years after a Neighbourhood Plan is made where there is at least 3 years supply of housing land and a housing delivery rate of at least 45%.
- Local plans have to be reviewed every 5 years.
- More detail on requirements for the duty to cooperate.
- Neighbourhood plans should take priority over other local policies if there is a conflict with a local plan that has been previously adopted.
- Neighbourhood plans should not promote less development than set out in the strategic policies for the area, or undermine those strategic policies.
- Reading between the lines, the Government appears to want Councils to focus on strategic policies, with broad objectives for more local areas. Neighbourhood Planning / area specific plans are to fill in the detail.
- Refusal of planning permission on grounds of prematurity will seldom be justified where a draft plan has yet to be submitted for examination.
- Introduction of the standardised methodology for calculating Housing Need.
- Affordable housing contributions should not be sought for developments that are not on major sites.
- Strategic plans should set out a housing requirement figure for designated neighbourhood areas.
- At least 20% of housing allocations should be on land of half a hectare or less.
- Local Authorities to consider lower implementation periods for major housing permissions and will taking into account previously lapsed permissions.
- Minimum densities where there is a housing shortage.
- The Housing Delivery Test will apply from November 2018. An LPA’s housing policies will be considered out of date if the Housing Delivery Test is not met and where Neighbourhood Plans are more than 2 years old.
The exceptional circumstances for Green Belt release have been clarified as follows:
- Councils should consider releasing brownfield land before Green Belt land.
- Councils should optimise density of development, particularly in town and city centres in order to divert pressure from the Green Belt.
- Councils should consider whether any unmet need can be met by neighbouring authorities.
The Government has also announced that it may support re-use of previously developed land in the green belt for affordable housing sites.
Alongside the NPPF the Government has announced a consultation on a draft set viability guidance. This includes:
- Viability assessments which should be made publicly available.
- Standardised inputs for viability assessments – e.g. values should be assessed based on EUV+ (Existing Use Value plus an uplift).
The Government has also launched a consultation into proposed changes to developer contributions for housing:
- The Government is considering setting national non-negotiable financial contributions.
- S106 pooling restrictions are to be removed.
- Combined authorities and planning joint committees could be given powers to raise a Strategic Infrastructure Tariff, similar to London’s Mayoral Community Infrastrucutre Levy (CIL).
It is proposed that Councils can set CIL rates based on existing uses.
- Pre-commencement conditions should be avoided unless there is a clear justification to include them.
Overall, the draft NPPF’s main focus appears to be on increasing housing supply.
The main points are the Housing Delivery Test and a shift in focus to strategic plans with separate documents for area-specific policies. The existing Green Belt protections have been retained, with some additional scope for affordable housing schemes on previously developed land.
However, much is to be desired about the lack of measures to address the overall shortage of employment sites.
All documents have a consultation deadline of May 10th, 11:45 p.m.
For help or advice in relation to any of the issues discussed above, don’t hesitate to get in touch with our expert planning team.