On 5 March 2018, the government published its consultation on the revised National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF). The NPPF is six years old and an overhaul is considered long overdue.
The consultation closes on 10 May 2018. The government is keen to hear from a wide range of interested parties from across the public and private sectors, as well as from the general public.
Many of the proposed changes include proposals already consulted on in the Housing White Paper, Fixing our broken housing market and the Planning for the right homes in the right places consultation.
This current consultation seeks views on the additional policy proposals which cover a variety of matters. It also sets out a series of further consultation questions.
The consultation papers published include the following:
- NPPF Consultation Proposals;
- NPPF Draft Text for Consultation;
- Draft Planning Practice Guidance for Viability;
- Housing Delivery Test- draft measurement rule book.
Furthermore, the government has published a separate consultation paper – Supporting Housing Delivery Through Developer Contributions. The government’s objective is to seek reforms to the existing system of developer contributions (through CIL and Section 106 Agreements), in the short term which it hopes will benefit the “local authorities who administer them, developers who pay them and the communities in which development takes place”.
Key issues within the proposals include the following:
- Changes to the presumption in favour of sustainable development (paragraph 11).
- Clarification on the need for viability assessments (paragraph 58).
- A new standardised methodology for assessing housing need (paragraph 61).
- The introduction of a housing delivery test which will impose sanctions on LPAs failing to meet house building targets (paragraphs 74-77).
- Enhanced protection for the natural environment with a new presumption against development that would result in the loss or deterioration of ancient woodland or other irreplaceable habitats unless for “wholly exceptional reasons” (paragraph 173(c)).
- A proposal to permit the use of brownfield land in the green belt for affordable housing (provided there is no substantial harm to openness (paragraph 144g).
- The introduction of a new section on oil, gas and coal exploration (paragraph 204).
- Changes to the sequential approach to town centre uses (paragraph 87).
- Minimum density standards to be used in town and city centres and around transport hubs in areas where there is a shortage of land for meeting identified development needs (paragraph 123).
Whilst announcing this current round of consultation the Prime Minister also declared plans to penalise those property developers who do not build homes quickly enough. This proposal comes after comments were made by some Ministers previously that the government may also introduce sanctions for so- called “Nimby” councils; who fail to provide housing against objective housing needs by “fudging” the housing figures.
It will be interesting to see the responses from developers, Council’s and registered social landlords to this current round of consultations. The Prime Minister announced that a final version of the NPPF is expected to be published in the summer.