The New National Planning Policy Framework: What does it mean for Developers?
The Government has published its revised National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) following the Spring consultation exercise on draft changes.
The new NPPF focuses on the promotion of high quality design of new homes and places, stronger protection for the environment, delivering a sufficient supply of houses in the right places and placing greater responsibility on councils and developers for delivery – as well as streamlining current processes.
Key changes for the development community include:
- Plan-Making – an expectation that Local Plans will set out the developer contributions expected from development e.g. types of affordable housing provision required and other infrastructure such as education, health, transport, flood and water management and green and digital infrastructure.
- Decision-making – viability assessments should reflect the recommended approach in national planning guidance (a tacit admission that the previous approach was too ad hoc and unpredictable in nature).
- Delivering a Sufficient Supply of Homes – provision of affordable housing should only be sought for major developments, where 10% of the proposed housing stock should be made available for affordable housing ownership. Exception sites should be allowed to be developed for entry-level homes (first time buyers and fist time renters) on sites outside existing settlements, on land not allocated for housing, unless the housing need is already being met within the authority’s area.
- Ensuring the Vitality of Town Centres – the strengthening of the sequential test to planning applications for main centre uses, making clear that out of centre sites should be considered only if suitable town centre/edge of centre sites are not available.
- Promoting Sustainable Transport – policies should take into account the need to ensure provision of spaces for ultra-low emission vehicles and maximum parking standards for residential and non-residential development should only be set where there is a clear and compelling justification that they are necessary for managing the local road network, or for optimising the density of development in city and town centres or other locations that are well served by public transport.
- Making Effective Use of Land – policies to make as much use as possible of previously-developed land, optimising the development potential of each site, whilst avoiding the building of homes at low densities.
- Achieving Well-designed Places – Local Plans to incorporate a clear design vision and expectations, to give as much certainty to applicants as possible, with an emphasis on engagement between authority and applicant during the pre-application stage.
Time will tell of course how local planning authorities will implement the changes, whether they’ll be any sort of uniformity of approach and what the net outcome for developers will be although the aspirations of creating more certainty in the planning process and opening up more land for development to meet England’s housing need in a controlled and sustainable way are certainly to be welcomed.
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