The long anticipated revised NPPF proposals were published on 24 July 2018.
NPPF 2 is pro-growth but with caveats. The emphasis is on building attractive and better-designed homes in areas where they are most needed. The "right houses in the right places" is now a familiar mantra, although so is the government's continued (and it appears now enhanced), protection of the green belt.
It also seeks to plug the gaps, ambiguities and inconsistencies in NPPF 1 that were exposed in previous appeal decisions and court challenges. In doing so, there is an expectation that it will speed up plan making, decision taking and the rate of housing delivery. Whether it goes far enough to appease those previous critics of the draft proposals (specifically that they will not solve the housing crisis), does, of course, remain to be seen.
The revised framework seeks greater responsibility and accountability for housing delivery from local councils and developers and so encourages more collaboration between strategic planning authorities, more pro-activity, positivity and creativity from local planning authorities to development proposals, quicker decision making and use of fewer but more focused conditions to encourage timely delivery.
For their part, developers will need to demonstrate a more effective use of land, increased housing densities and in many cases a minimum on-site affordable housing provision of 10% of the total dwellings constructed. Off-site provision in lieu (normally a financial contribution, will now be the exception.
To circumvent delays resulting from viability arguments, there is also an assumption of viability where up-to-date policies have set out the contributions expected from development. It will be up to the applicant to demonstrate whether particular circumstances justify the need for a viability assessment at the application stage. However, that all viability assessment will have to reflect the recommended approach in national planning guidance, including standardised inputs, and will now be made publicly available.
The old paragraph 14 presumption in favour of sustainable development is now replaced with a new and revised paragraph 11 presumption which includes reference to a new "housing delivery test. This will cause concern to local planning authorities that have underperformed on housing delivery as it places greater responsibility on them to deliver target housing numbers and includes sanctions for failing to meet housebuilding targets in local plans. This will effectively render its adopted local plan policies as out-of-date", triggering the paragraph 11 presumption in favour of development. The new housing delivery test will apply from an appointed date in November 2018 and transitional provisions will apply on a sliding scale from that date.
In unveiling the new framework, Secretary of State for Housing, Communities & Local Government, and James Brokenshire MP said:
"Fundamental to building the homes our country needs is ensuring that our planning system is fit for the future.
This revised planning framework sets out our vision of a planning system that delivers the homes we need. I am clear that quantity must never compromise the quality of what is built, and this is reflected in the new rules".
Our planning team is reviewing the government's proposals in more detail and will upload a series of briefing notes on specific areas covered in NPPF 2 to the Shoosmiths website this week.
This document is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. It is recommended that specific professional advice is sought before acting on any of the information given.