NPPF consultation: 10 things you need to know

10 things you need to know about this week's consultation on changes to the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF), including proposals to amend the planning policy definition of affordable housing, plans to require higher density development around commuter hubs, and a new presumption in favour of brownfield housing development.

Commuter hub: push for higher densities (picture by Network Rail)
Commuter hub: push for higher densities (picture by Network Rail)

1. Sanctions for under-delivering on housing targets mooted
Local planning authorities that fail to deliver the homes set out in their local plans could be required to identify 'additional sustainable sites’, which could include new settlements, according to the consultation. It sets out further details on the operation of the housing delivery test announced in last month’s Spending Review. It says that the government proposes to amend planning policy to make clear that where significant under-delivery is identified over a sustained period, action needs to be taken to address this. "One approach could be to identify additional sustainable sites if the existing approach is demonstrably not delivering the housing required," the consultation says. MORE.

2. Affordable housing definition broadened
The government proposes to amend the national planning policy definition of affordable housing "so that it encompasses a fuller range of products that can support people to access home ownership. We propose that the definition will continue to include a range of affordable products for rent and for ownership for households whose needs are not met by the market, but without being unnecessarily constrained by the parameters of products that have been used in the past which risk stifling innovation". MORE.

3. Councils told to plan for needs of those who aspire to home ownership
The consultation says that the government proposes to make clearer in policy the requirement to plan for the housing needs of "those who aspire to home ownership alongside those whose needs are best met through rented homes, subject as now to the overall viability of individual sites".

4. Push for higher densities around commuter hubs
The consultation proposes a change to national planning policy "that would expect local planning authorities, in both plan-making and in taking planning decisions, to require higher density development around commuter hubs wherever feasible".

5. Fresh policy backing for new settlements
The government proposes to strengthen national planning policy to "provide a more supportive approach for new settlements, within locally-led plans. We consider that local planning authorities should take a proactive approach to planning for new settlements where they can meet the sustainable development objectives of national policy, including taking account of the need to provide an adequate supply of new homes".

6. A presumption in favour of brownfield housing development
The consultation says that the government will "make clearer in national policy that substantial weight should be given to the benefits of using brownfield land for housing (in effective, a form of ‘presumption’ in favour of brownfield land). We propose to make it clear that development proposals for housing on brownfield sites should be supported, unless overriding conflicts with the local plan or the National Planning Policy Framework can be demonstrated and cannot be mitigated". MORE.

7. Call for release of unviable employment land
The government intends to amend 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".

8. Scope of Starter Homes initiative widened further
The scope of the current exception site policy for Starter Homes could be widened to incorporate other forms of unviable or underused brownfield land, "such as land which was previously in use for retail, leisure and non-residential institutional uses (such as former health and educational sites)", according to the consultation document.

9. Neighbourhood planners to identify green belt Starter Home sites
The government proposes to amend national planning policy so that neighbourhood plans can allocate appropriate small-scale sites in the green belt specifically for Starter Homes, with neighbourhood areas having the discretion to determine the scope of a small-scale site.

10. Green belt brownfield policy test faces revision
The consultation says that the government proposes to amend the current policy test in paragraph 89 of the NPPF that prevents development of brownfield land where there is any additional impact on the openness of the green belt to "give more flexibility and enable suitable, sensitively designed redevelopment to come forward"

The consultation closes on 25 January 2016.

Consultation on proposed changes to national planning policy is available here.


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