In July 2018, the government published a revised version of the National Planning Policy Framework, known more commonly as the NPPF2. Its aim is to encourage local authorities to build more affordable housing, in the hope of easing the housing crisis. In fact, the goal is to supply 300,000 homes each year by the mid-2020s.
The National Planning Policy Framework
The National Planning Policy Framework was originally implemented in 2012. It provides a national policy for planning applications that every LPA must use, alongside their local planning policies.
The second version – the NPPF2 – has around 85 amendments. The new policies are designed to help local planning authorities (LPAs) address the housing shortage. LPAs who do not meet their targets over a three-year period will be penalised by central government.
Now, development proposals that comply with planning policy should be given the go ahead straightaway. This is especially true where the LPA has fallen behind its targets. A development should only be rejected if there is a ‘clear reason for refusal’. This presumption in favour of sustainable development is key to the NPPF2.
One possible reason for refusal is that the proposed development impacts a protected site, such as green belt land, areas of outstanding natural beauty or heritage sites. The NPPF2 safeguards these sites, although does permit the use of greenbelt land in certain situations. For example, where the development will not have a harmful impact or does not conflict with green belt purposes.
Efficient land use
Otherwise, LPAs are asked to make efficient use of the land available. This might include increasing the density of a town or city centre. Also, at least 10% of homes in a development which includes housing provision should be ‘affordable’ (with some exceptions). If a development proposal fails to make efficient use of the land, it may be rejected.
Changes have also been made to viability assessments, which evaluate the economic viability of a proposed development. Under the NPPF2, viability assessments are no longer necessary in each and every case. Instead, the developer has the chance to outline why a viability assessment is not needed. If this is successfully established, a viability assessment is not required.
These are just some of the notable policies outlined in the NPPF2. It is too early to tell whether they will help ease the housing shortage. The focus on sustainable development will certainly have a bearing on LPAs, and in turn, developers.
In the meantime, if you are looking for expert legal advice, contact us at Breens Solicitors.