Planning for the right homes in the right places: consultation proposals

The Government argued in the housing White Paper that a standard approach to assessing local housing need would be simpler, quicker, and more transparent. This consultation paper proposes a standard method based on three key principles.

The paper stated that the three key principles that the standard method to assessing local housing need should be based on are:

a) Simple–there should be an easy and transparent process for local people and other interests to understand;

b) Based on publicly available data –which might include national data such as that from the Office for National Statistics, or robust local data;

c) Realistic –to reflect the actual need for homes in each area, taking into account the affordability of homes locally. High house prices indicate a relative imbalance between the supply and demand for new homes, and makes housing less affordable. The affordability of new homes is the best evidence that supply is not keeping up with demand.

In addition, the government consider that any approach must allow an understanding of the minimum number of homes that are needed across England as a whole, while also reflecting the effect of the government's Industrial Strategy as they seek to promote prosperity in every part of the country.

The proposed approach to a standard method consists of three components. The starting point continues to be a demographic baseline, which is then modified to account for market signals (the price of homes). However, the government state that they recognise that it is important to ensure that the proposed housing need is as deliverable as possible, so are proposing a cap to limit any increase an authority may face when they review their plan.

The paper also seeks views on changes to national policy to help local planning authorities and communities plan for and deliver the homes they need, including:

  • improving how authorities work together in planning to meet housing and other requirements across boundaries, through the preparation of a statement of common ground;
  • how the new approach to calculating housing need can help authorities plan for the needs of particular groups and support neighbourhood planning;
  • proposals for improving the use of section 106 agreements, by making the use of viability assessments simpler, quicker and more transparent; and
  • seeking further views on how homes can be built more quickly.

This consultation also seeks views on the proposal in the housing White Paper that local planning authorities delivering the homes their communities need might be eligible for a further 20 per cent increase in fees for planning applications, over and above the 20 per cent increase already confirmed. If taken forward, this would be delivered through changes to regulations.

Subject to the outcome of this consultation, and the responses received to the housing White Paper, the Government intends to publish a draft revised National Planning Policy Framework early in 2018. They intend to allow a short period of time for further consultation on the text of the Framework to make sure the wording is clear, consistent and well-understood. Their ambition is to publish a revised, updated Framework in Spring 2018.

In taking forward the proposed changes to the Framework, some amendments will also be required to planning guidance. The report states that the Government will use the responses to both consultations to help shape changes to the guidance, which they intend to update alongside the revised Framework.

Date: September 2017 Date of publication

Author: DCLG

This item updates DCP section 7.131, 5.152, 4.61

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