NPPF: councils must plan for extra housing supply

Local authorities that have a poor track record for allocating land for housing will still have to find an extra 20 per cent of land on top of their five year land supplies, the government said today.

Planning minister Greg Clark
Planning minister Greg Clark

Campaigners had been lobbying the government to drop its blanket requirement for all local authorities to identify an additional 20 per cent of housing land as set out in its draft national planning policy framework (NPPF).

Today the government made some concessions in its finalised NPPF, although it has not entirely scrapped the policy.

Planning minister Greg Clark told MPs that the final framework takes a "localist approach to creating a buffer of housing supply".

The NPPF says local authorities will have to identify and update annually a five year supply of specific deliverable sites for housing plus an additional buffer five per cent to "ensure choice and competition in the market for land".

But councils that have a record of "persistent under delivery on housing" must earmark a five-year supply plus 20 per cent.

The NPPF says this will provide a "realistic prospect of achieving the planned supply" as well as to ensure choice and competition for land.

The government has also relaxed its stance on windfall sites, allowing local authorities to count them in their five-year supplies if they have compelling evidence that such sites "consistently become available" and will be a "reliable source of supply".

The draft document had said councils could not use windfall sites unless there was "compelling evidence of genuine local circumstances that prevent specific sites being identified".

The Home Builders Federation, which had expected the 20 per cent allocation to disappear in the final NPPF, welcomed the retention of the policy.

HBF planning director Andrew Whitaker said requirement for an additional allocation for housing land was a stick for councils to get their plans in place but they should not be frightened of it.

"It is a wake up call to councils to plan positively in their development plans," he said.

The next issue of Planning, to be published on Thursday 5 April, will contain in-depth analysis of the revised NPPF, including the results of an online survey of practitioners’ views on the reforms. Details of how you can take part in the survey will be released tomorrow.

The National Planning Policy Framework is available here.

NPPF live blog: Click through for all the latest developments as the government unveils the final draft of the national planning policy framework (NPPF).

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