Planning practice guidance will, where necessary, be updated in due course to reflect changes to the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF). Where plans are being prepared under the transitional arrangements set out in Annex 1 to the revised NPPF, the policies in the previous version of the framework published in 2012 will continue to apply, as will any guidance which is superseded after the publication of the revised framework.
The revised NPPF has a new section on "Making effective use of land" which states that planning policies and decisions should recognise that some undeveloped land can perform many functions, such as for wildlife, recreation, flood risk mitigation, cooling/shading, carbon storage or food production.
The new section also has a subsection on "Achieving appropriate densities". In the 2012 version of the NPPF local authorities were required to set out their own approach to housing density to reflect local circumstances. The 2018 NPPF however states that planning policies and decisions should support development that makes efficient use of land, taking into account:
a) the identified need for different types of housing and other forms of development, and the availability of land suitable for accommodating it;
b) local market conditions and viability;
c) the availability and capacity of infrastructure and services – both existing and proposed – as well as their potential for further improvement and the scope to promote sustainable travel modes that limit future car use;
d) the desirability of maintaining an area’s prevailing character and setting (including residential gardens), or of promoting regeneration and change; and
e) the importance of securing well-designed, attractive and healthy places.
The new section adds that where there is an existing or anticipated shortage of land for meeting identified housing needs, it is especially important that planning policies and decisions avoid homes being built at low densities, and ensure that developments make optimal use of the potential of each site. In these circumstances:
a) plans should contain policies to optimise the use of land in their area and meet as much of the identified need for housing as possible. This will be tested robustly at examination, and should include the use of minimum density standards for city and town centres and other locations that are well served by public transport. These standards should seek a significant uplift in the average density of residential development within these areas, unless it can be shown that there are strong reasons why this would be inappropriate;
b) the use of minimum density standards should also be considered for other parts of the plan area. It may be appropriate to set out a range of densities that reflect the accessibility and potential of different areas, rather than one broad density range; and
c) local planning authorities should refuse applications which they consider fail to make efficient use of land, taking into account the policies in this Framework. In this context, when considering applications for housing, authorities should take a flexible approach in applying policies or guidance relating to daylight and sunlight, where they would otherwise inhibit making efficient use of a site (as long as the resulting scheme would provide acceptable living standards).
In addition the MHCLG has published a response to the draft revised NPPF consultation.
Date: 24/7/2018 Date of publication