Consultation on proposed changes to national planning policy
The National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF), published in March 2012, set out the government’s planning policies for England, and how they are to be applied. The NPPF must be taken into account in the preparation of local and neighbourhood plans, and is a material consideration in planning decisions.
On 7 December 2015 the Department for Communities and Local Government launched a consultation seeking views on changes to the NPPF to support the delivery of new homes, including low cost homes for first time buyers. Ref National Planning Policy: consultation on proposed changes.
Some of the key changes proposed are set out below:
Broadening the definition of affordable housing, to expand the range of low cost housing opportunities for those aspiring to own their new home.
This would include products that are analogous to low cost market housing or intermediate rent, such as discount market sales or innovative rent to buy housing. Some of these products may not be subject to ‘in perpetuity’ restrictions or have recycled subsidy.
Increasing residential density around commuter hubs, to make more efficient use of land in suitable locations.
At present local planning authorities are able to set density levels for new housing development to reflect their local circumstances. The proposed change would require higher density development around commuter hubs wherever feasible, where a commuter hub would defined as:
- A public transport interchange (rail, tube or tram) where people can board or alight to continue their journey by other public transport (including buses), walking or cycling; and
- A place that has, or could have in the future, a frequent service to that stop (at least every 15 minutes during normal commuting hours).
This would make clearer that substantial weight should be given to the benefits of using brownfield land for housing - in effect, a ‘presumption’ in favour of brownfield land, and would ensure that all proposals for sustainable development on small sites of less than 10 units are strongly supported by national policy.
Ensuring housing is delivered on land allocated in plans.
This would include the housing delivery test announced in the autumn statement, comparing the number of homes that local planning authorities set out to deliver in their local plan against the net additions in housing supply in a local planning authority area. Where significant under-delivery is identified over a sustained period, action will be taken to address this.
Supporting delivery of starter homes.
Amendment of paragraph 22 of the NPPF to make clear that unviable or underused employment land should be released unless there is significant and compelling evidence to justify why such land should be retained for employment use.
Specific proposals are also suggested for:
- Encouraging starter homes within mixed use commercial developments.
- Encouraging starter homes in rural areas.
- Enabling communities to identify opportunities for starter homes.
- Allowing for the development of brownfield land in the green belt providing it contributes to starter homes.
A draft equalities assessment was also published.
Responses can be submitted online at: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/YZBLFJP
Originally the consultation was due to close on 25 January 2016, but following complaints from the industry that this would not give them time to prepare thorough responses, the deadline was extended to 22 February.
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