The Revised NPPF: A Step Change in Housing Delivery?

A look at some important changes to the NPPF

The long-awaited draft revision of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) has now been published and aims to consolidate a series of proposals that have been made in the last two and half years. The draft incorporates the changes that have been consulted on following last year’s housing white paper and ‘planning for the right homes in the right places’ consultation.

The changes to the NPPF place more pressure on local planning authorities to adopt up-to-date local plans and to introduce measures to make the planning process easier. At the same time, it appears that changes will also place an onus on developers not to delay the implementation of planning permissions whilst ensuring that they provide enough affordable homes to meet the country’s needs.

The draft contains new policies relating to plan making, in addition to a series of policies already announced and widely anticipated. These policies include the introduction of standardised methodology for calculating objectively assessed housing need and the new housing delivery test which will be implemented from November 2018.

The presumption in favour of sustainable development (formerly paragraph 14) has been updated and will now be triggered where a local planning authority’s relevant policies are out-of-date and in circumstances where the housing delivery test indicates that a local planning authority failed to meet the housing requirement over the previous three years. This test will also impose sanctions on local planning authorities where there has been significant under delivery of housing, such as a 20% buffer on housing need and the implementation of an action plan to assess the causes of under-delivery.

The changes mean that local planning authorities are not only required to ensure an up-to-date five-year supply of housing but also that housing delivery is consistently meeting targets to ensure that they have control in determining applications in accordance with their development plans.

The draft NPPF also introduces key new policies relating to the production of viability assessments and states that if development complies with local policy, a viability assessment will not be required. Where such an assessment is required, however, it will now follow a standardised national approach – to be set out in national planning guidance. It will also be necessary for all viability assessments to be made public.

Whilst the majority of the draft revisions have been expected from previous consultations, the Draft NPPF shows how these will work together. The question remains however whether these changes will have the desired impact of boosting housing supply.