James Hall, Partner “Today’s draft revision of the National Planning Policy Framework is well intentioned and encouraging in providing further means to facilitate housing delivery within a plan-led system, reinforcing the still unmet target to build 300,000 homes a year. We need to maximise the use of land in this country, building at greater densities where sensible and making it easier for land to be reallocated where there is no chance of development happening and it is important to see the Government recognising this.
“Stronger penalties for authorities who do not have an adopted Local Plan or proven housing land supply in place are necessary to ensure that we deliver properly planned development, address undersupply and support economic growth across the country – but it will be a big ask for councils to review a Local Plan every five years. If it can be achieved, it will give many councils with adopted plans the impetus to deliver more quickly on major, allocated sites. But although small sites should be considered as part of the mix, the requirement for 20 per cent of sites to be below 0.5 hectares is worrying. It is highly unlikely that all these small sites can be allocated and then delivered, and that could erode confidence in the Local Plan meeting housing need. The standardised approach to setting a housing target is still a concern given the variety of demographics across different authorities, especially in the north. We hope when this is reviewed, it is directly linked to job creation.
“The revised NPPF goes some way to giving greater clarity to those investing in housing by confirming required contributions, including setting a minimum level of affordable housing at 10 per cent. However viability is a complex issue and cannot be glossed over in the process.
“This certainly has the potential to make it easier for the industry to deliver greater housing numbers, not just planning permissions, but we’d like to see greater clarification on the criteria for green belt release and how measures such as judgements on a track-record of delivery will be assessed fairly, to ensure that these do not become a blockage to building the homes that the country needs.”
A detailed guidance note will be issued shortly.
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