Posted by Peter Foskett, Partner
The Government’s latest action to fix “the broken housing market”
The Government has recently published its draft revised National Planning Policy Document and is consulting on it until 10th May. It sees this revised policy as a key step towards achieving its goal of 300,000 new homes being built every year. It seeks to make a number of important changes and a few key ones are highlighted in this article.
Plan led system
A planning system will be created where every local authority has a strategy for all forms of development in its area which will be set out in a Local Plan (along with subordinate plans). Planning applications and the grant of permission will then follow that strategy. Although this approach is not new, Central Government is determined to achieve this, certainly with regard to the delivery of new residential homes.
The revisions also quietly put even more into the strait jacket of Local Plans David Cameron’s much vaunted concept of Localism with greater emphasis on a tiered plan led approach. Delivery of housing is increased in relative importance.
Assessing housing needs
All local authorities will be required to calculate the need for housing in their area by reference to one standard methodology. This will remove the appeals’ process arguments over the appropriateness of the factors used to calculate need and therefore the accuracy of the figures. More critically historic delivery will become a constituent in assessing future housing requirements.
A substantial failure to deliver will result in an increase in future numbers. There will be a transitional period expiring in November 2020. After that where actual delivery of housing is less than 85% of the housing requirement, effectively a 20% increase will apply to future housing requirement figures. Where delivery falls beneath 75%, sustainable development outside of strategic areas will be permitted. No longer will future plans be allowed to cloak past failures.
Actual housing delivery will also be made more transparent by local authorities being required to publish an annual position statement.
Viability of development
Another step being taken by the revisions is to remove viability as an issue from each application. Rather viability will be focussed at the plan-making stage rather than individual decision making stage; although plans will set out where viability assessments may be required as part of an application for planning permission.
Despite the push for housing delivery, the green belt remains protected. Brown land within the green belt is perhaps made more open to development but true green belt land possibly is better protected by the revision.
And more to come
Alongside this more actions are promised in the near future. Fees for planning appeals will be considered and new permitted development rights are likely to be created. Also Sir Oliver Letwin is undertaking a review into the delay between the grant of planning permission and sites being fully built out. He intends to publish the outcome of his investigations in June. Please follow the link below to my article about his letter:
In undertaking this revision of the National Planning Policy Framework, it is the hope of Government to create a planning system that will efficiently reflect the need for housing, not just as a quick fix but into the long term.
Currently considerable effort and expense is being spent on seeking to obtain planning permission in locations contrary to the desire of planning authorities. Where successful, this can result in development becoming a bad word because communities feel disregarded (especially where the grant of planning permission is contrary to a local plan) and roads, schools, doctors surgeries and other social infrastructure are adversely affected. Where unsuccessful, this means that effort and expense on development in areas which would be better for the community has been sacrificed.
A sign of the success of the Government’s actions will be that this ceases to be the case. Rather developers focus their time and resources on areas designated for residential development and a more integrated and strategic expansion of towns and cities takes place.
If you have any enquiries regarding the proposed planning system or anything property related, please contact our team on:
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