Santa (or the Grinch) came early……..NPPF ‘Prospectus’ consultation launched…… (part one – chapters 1 – 8)

by Jo Hanslip

On the 23rd December 2022 the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) finally published the consultation on updates to the NPPF. The consultation (Prospectus) runs until the 2nd March 2023 and covers the following areas:

The consultation notes that a fuller review of the Framework is occur in due course and will have regard to the wider planning system amendments proposed by the Levelling-up and Regeneration Bill. It is also suggested many of the changes proposed would take effect in the publication of a revised NPPF in the Spring 2023.

Responses can be send via the address below:

There are some immediate changes and the NPPF tracked changes highlight the changes which take effect immediately.

The Government states that it is committed to “delivering 300,000 homes a year by the mid-2020s and many of the immediate changes focus on how we plan to deliver the homes our communities need. We know that the best way to secure more high-quality homes in the right places is through the adoption of local plans. At present, fewer than half of local authorities have up-to-date plans (adopted in the past five years). Our proposed reforms create clear incentives for more local authorities to adopt plans…….If communities know they can protect valuable green space and natural habitats as well as requiring new developments to be high quality and beautiful, plans are more likely to be both durable and robust.”

The consultation’s objective are identified as:

  • Building beautiful and refusing ugliness
  • Securing the infrastructure needed to support development
  • More democratic engagement with communities on local plans
  • Better environmental outcomes
  • Empowering communities to shape their neighbourhoods
  • Deliver more homes in the right places, supported by sustainable and integrated infrastructure for our communities and our economy

Chapter 3 – Providing certainty through local and neighbourhood plans

What has not changed:

  • Commitment to deliver 300,000 homes/year by mid 2020
  • Presumption in favour of sustainable development remains (where plans are not up-to-date)
  • Adopted plans are the best way to secure high quality homes

What may change?

Reforming the 5-year housing land supply (5YHLS)

  • LPA’s with a n up to date plan (i.e the housing requirement sin the plan is less than 5 years old), they no longer would need to maintain a 5-year housing land supply
  • It’s seen that this approach would incentivise LPA’s to progress their plans
  • All buffers (5, 0 and 20%) to be removed within 5 years HLS calculation’s
  • Oversupply calculations will be brought in line with the approach on undersupply – meaning that LPA’s will be able to bring in any historic oversupply in calculating 5 year land requirements

Boosting the status of Neighbourhood Plans

What has not changed:

  • Paragraph 11d provisions remain (where LPA’s cannot demonstrate a 5-year supply or have a HDT below 75% in past 3 years)

What may change:

  • Neighbourhood plans will be protected for 5 years from speculative applications through proposed revisions to paragraph 14
  • Tests for LPA’s to demonstrate a minimum housing land supply and have delivered the minimum in the Housing Delivery Test (HDT) will be protected

Chapter 4 – Planning for housing

Providing for necessary development that is integrated with local infrastructure is a core purpose of the planning system, while not negating the fundamental importance of respecting the overarching economic, social and environmental objectives

Local housing need and the standard method

What has not changed:

  • Standard method formula is not proposed to change through the consultation

What may change:

  • Implications on the standard method of new household projections data based on the 2021 Census, due in 2024.
  • Local housing need and HDT changes are proposed to enable LPA’s to respond to demographic and affordability pressures to support the plan led system

Introducing new flexibilities to meeting housing needs

What has not changed:

  • Use of standard method formula
  • LPA’s al plan for additional homes than standard method would suggest where they can demonstrate it is appropriate for their area
  • Delivering urban uplift to remain (35% for 20 largest towns and cities)

What may change:

  • Standard method formula outcome would be an advisory starting point
  • Outcomes would no longer be mandatory
  • Explicit indications will be given where exceptional circumstances justify an alternative method
  • Assessing soundness tests on housing need
    • If densities ‘significantly’ out of character with the existing area my offset the needs to meet need in full
    • LPA’s would not be required to review and alter Green Belt boundaries if only way to meet need in full
    • Past over provision to be taken into account in need calculations
  • Use a proportionate amount of evidence for examination on housing need
  • Soundness test will not apply to pre-submission plans within 3 months of the policy change
  • Remove Duty to cooperate and replace with ‘alignment policy’ (the details of which are open to comment)

Enabling communities with plans already in the system to benefit from changes

What has not changed:

What may change:

  • If the changes proposed come into effect, it may delay LPA’s with their plan preparation – in these situations then the 5 years supply requirement will be reduced to 4 years.
  • Such transitional arrangements would exist for 2 years.

Taking account of permissions granted in the Housing Delivery Test (HDT)

What has not changed:

  • HDT approach will still be required but with proposed additional aspects

What may change:

  • Ability in calculating the HDT for LPA to apply an additional permission test which will ‘switch off’ the presumption test where LPAs have granted sufficient permissions to meet their requirement.

“21. To qualify for the Housing Delivery Test presumption ‘switch off’, a local planning authority would need to have sufficient permissions for enough deliverable homes to meet their own annual housing requirement or, where lacking an up-to-date plan (adopted in the past 5 years), local housing need, plus an additional contingency based on the number of planning permissions that are not likely to be progressed or are revised”

  • Sufficient deliverable units will be set at 115% to ‘switch off’
  • Action Plans will still be required
  • 2022 HDT publication is uncertain given the changes and views sought of publishing, suspending to 2023 or freezing based upon 2021 outputs.

Chapter 5 – A planning system for communities

More homes for social rent

What may change:

  • Increase emphasis on delivery

More older people’s housing

What may change:

  • Amend paragraph 62 to increase emphasis

More small sites for small builders

What may change:

  • Amend paragraph 69 to increase emphasis to support SME’s

More community-led developments

What may change:

  • affordable housing for rent” be amended to include organisations that area not Registered Providers – such as community led developers and alms-houses to deliver affordable homes

Developer accountability 

What may change:

  • enforcement reforms when legal commitment are not complied with
  • applicant planning ‘merit’s also to be considered (not just planning merits)
  • penalise irresponsible behaviours by:
    • making behaviour a material planning consideration
    • allowing LPA’s to refused subsequent application where past irresponsible behaviour has occurred
  • primary legislation to effect such changes

More build out

What has not changed:

  • expect local authorities to do their bit in promptly processing planning permissions and discharging conditions

What may change:

  • Development Commencement Notices (DCN’s) will be introduced
  • LPA’s to be able to serve completion notices with time periods for completions following which the applications will lapse for the uncompleted aspects of eth development
  • Developers will be required to explain their build out rates which will be tracked against a trajectory
  • Planning fees to increase
  • 3 measures to monitor progress
    • The Government will publish data in build out rates on certain sized sites
    • “Developers will be required to explain how they propose to increase the diversity of housing tenures to maximise a development scheme’s absorption rate (which is the rate at which homes are sold or occupied).”
    • NPPF amendment to ensure delivery is a material consideration

Chapter 6 – Asking for beauty

Ask for beauty

What has not changed:

  • Importance of Design Codes
  • Paragraph 135 has been amended regarding the use of design assessment tools and processes

What may change:

  • Importance of beaty will be emphasised
  • Amending the NPPF to have regard to the Building Better, Building Beautiful Commission report.
  • secondary legislation so that existing permitted development rights with design or external appearance prior approvals will take into account design codes

Refuse ugliness

What may change:

  •  Increased use of conditions to ensure aims are met

Embracing gentle density

What may change:

  • airspace development above existing residential and commercial premises for new homes
  • greater use of mansard roofs to secure gentle densification

Chapter 7 – Protecting the environment and tackling climate change

Delivering biodiversity net gain and local nature recovery

What has not changed:

  • 10% BNG requirement will take effect November 2023 as per the Environment Act
  • Local Nature Recovery Strategies to continue

What may change:

  • Department will work with DEFRA to ensure that site clearance to ensure site degradation before BNG calculations is restricted
  • Environment Act passing through legislated resulted in government stating it would introduce a new duty on planning authorities to consult the Secretary of State for DLUHC before granting permission for development affecting ancient woodland.
  • Further guidance on Local Nature Recovery Strategies

Recognising the food production value of farmland

What may change:

  • Increased emphasis on food production

Climate change mitigation: exploring a form of carbon assessment

  • Climate adaptation and flood-risk management

What may change:

  • Increased emphasis on avoiding overheating and managing water scarcity

Chapter 8 – Onshore wind and energy efficiency

Measures include

  • Enabling the repowering of existing onshore wind turbines
  • Introducing more flexibility to plan for new onshore wind deployment

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