The UK Government’s publication of a revised National Planning Policy Framework for England, which introduces new requirements for housing delivery, is likely to provoke mixed reactions amongst those affected by the planning regime.
This framework replaces the National Planning Policy Framework which was published by the UK Government in 2012 and sets out the Government’s planning policies for England and how they should be applied.
The new Planning Policy Framework devotes a chapter to delivering a sufficient supply of homes. The policies set out in this chapter are intended to support the Government’s objective of significantly boosting the supply of homes by ensuring that a sufficient amount and variety of land can come forward where housing is needed, that the needs of groups with specific housing requirements are addressed and that land with planning permission is developed without unnecessary delay. Obligations for maintaining supply and delivery are set out at paragraphs 73 to 76 and require that:
- Strategic policies should include a trajectory illustrating the expected rate of housing delivery over the plan period.
- Local planning authorities should identify and update annually a supply of specific deliverable sites sufficient to provide a minimum of five years’ worth of housing against their housing requirement set out in adopted strategic policies or against their local housing need if strategic policies are more than five years old.
- The supply of specific deliverable sites should include a buffer of 5% to ensure choice and competition in the market for land; or 10% where the local planning authority wishes to demonstrate a five year supply of deliverable sites through an annual position statement or recently adopted plan, to account for any fluctuations in the market during that year; or 20% where there has been significant under delivery of housing over the previous three years, to improve the prospect of achieving the planned supply.
- Local planning authorities should monitor progress in building out sites which have planning permission. If the Housing Delivery Test indicates that delivery has fallen below 95% of a local planning authority’s housing requirement over the previous three years, the authority should prepare an action plan to assess the causes of under-delivery and identify actions to increase delivery in future years.
- Local planning authorities should consider imposing a planning condition providing that development must begin within a timescale shorter than the relevant default period, where this would expedite a housing development without threatening its deliverability or viability.
The Housing Delivery Test is an annual measurement of housing delivery in the areas of plan-making authorities in non-metropolitan districts, metropolitan boroughs, London boroughs and development corporations with plan-making and decision-making powers. The Government will publish Housing Delivery Test results annually in November. A Housing Delivery Test Measurement Rule Book has been published alongside the new National Planning Policy Framework and that sets out the method for calculating the Housing Delivery Test result.
The Government’s continuing drive to deliver more homes is likely to be viewed differently by different stakeholders. Developers may welcome the changes introduced by the new framework and see opportunities to progress their development ambitions. Local planning authorities and their communities may be less enthusiastic when they consider the effect that complying with the new requirements of the framework may have on their areas. The Chair of the Local Government Association, Lord Porter, has been reported as expressing disappointment that the Government was introducing a delivery test that would punish communities for homes not built by private developers. He said that there was a risk that the reforms would lead to locally agreed plans being bypassed by national targets. He also said that it was vital to give local authorities powers to ensure homes with planning permission are built, enable them to borrow to build, keep 100 per cent of Right to Buy receipts and set discounts locally.
The Planning Policy Framework can be accessed on the website of the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/national-planning-policy-framework--2
The Housing Delivery Test Measurement Rule Book can be accessed at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/housing-delivery-test-measurement-rule-book
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