The National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) has been revised by the Ministry of Housing including new rules intended by the to make it easier for councils to challenge poor quality development, and provide communities with a greater voice on how developments should look and feel.
A total of 85 of the proposals set out in the housing White Paper and the Autumn Budget have been included in the new framework, with the new ‘rule book’ focusing on “promoting the high quality design of new homes and places, stronger protection for the environment, building the right number of homes in the right places, and greater responsibility and accountability for housing delivery from councils and developers”.
While the framework sets the strategic direction for driving up new build quality, it will remain up to councils to apply these policies in the most appropriate way for their area, with the reasoning that they are well placed to know their area’s unique character and setting.
SME builders have also been addressed, with the revision of “small sites” to “small and medium sites”. In addition, where the NPPF previously stated that 20 per cent of sites identified for housing should be half a hectare or less, now councils should identify “at least 10 per cent of their housing requirement on sites no larger than one hectare.” In addition neighbourhood planning groups “should also consider the opportunities for allocating small and medium-sized” for housing in their area.
To help tackle unaffordable house prices, the updated NPPF “sets out a new way for councils to calculate the housing need of their local community (including different forms of housing, such as retirement homes), based on factors such as the affordability of existing homes for people on lower and medium incomes”.
From November 2018, councils will have a Housing Delivery Test, focused on increasing numbers of homes in their area, “rather than how many are planned for”. Also, “clearer guidance” on infrastructure and affordable housing for both developers and councils will be published.
The framework has also been updated to provide further protection for biodiversity, intended to align the planning system more closely with Defra’s 25 Year Environment Plan. Along with this, the Government has “more explicitly outlined the protection of the Green Belt in England”, with the revisions stating that “all reasonable options for development are exhausted before looking to alter a Green Belt boundary”.
Secretary of State for Communities, Rt Hon James Brokenshire MP commented: “Fundamental to building the homes our country needs is ensuring that our planning system is fit for the future.
“I am clear that quantity must never compromise the quality of what is built, and this is reflected in the new rules.”