The new National Planning Policy Framework – known as the NPPF – which was published in June 2018, is the starting point for how every local plan should be written and every planning decision made. The changes that have been introduced from the original 2012 version are in large part aimed at ensuring more new homes are delivered.
Here are just five of the ways in which it could help more planning permissions for new homes be granted.
1. Five-year housing land supply
This is an old-favourite that has been kept from the original NPPF. Councils must make sure they have a sufficient supply of sites to meet their housing needs for the next five years. If that isn’t the case, the “tilted balance” comes into effect – which means that many local policies can effectively be set aside and policies in the NPPF used to make decisions instead.
The result is that planning permission could be granted on sites which might not otherwise be considered suitable by the council – provided they are sustainable developments. We’ve covered how that works in detail here.
2. The Housing Delivery Test
While five-year supply looks forward, at what might be delivered in the future, the new Housing Delivery Test looks backwards at what has actually been built. If fewer homes have been delivered than councils intended over the last three years, they are required to take different actions depending on how severe the shortfall is.
When the shortfall is small – with fewer than 95% of the homes required have been delivered – the response is simply preparing an action plan. However, if delivery is less than 75% of the housing target, then the tilted balance is applied, just like if there was no five-year housing land supply. That means some local policies can be set aside, allowing homes to be delivered on sites which might not otherwise have secured planning permission.
3. Entry-level exception sites
The revised NPPF has introduced new type of housing site – “entry-level exception sites.” These are defined as sites with homes which are suitable for first-time buyers and which include at least one type of affordable housing – unless that need is already being met elsewhere within the borough.
Where a proposal meets those criteria, planning permission could be granted on sites that are outside of existing settlement and which aren’t allocated for development.
There are some restrictions – sites should be less than 1 hectare in size and no more than 5% of the size of the settlement they adjoin, for example, while the Green Belt is also exempted. Yet this could be a useful tool to secure planning permission on sites where development would not normally be allowed, even if the council have a healthy supply of housing.
4. Five-yearly plan reviews
The planning system in England is supposed to be plan-led. Every council should have a local plan which guides development over the next 10 to 15 years.
One of the problems with that approach is that plans are often unable to keep pace with changing circumstances over such a long period of time. In particular, the need for homes could change or sites that the council thought would deliver new homes might not.
To address that, council’s are now required to review their plans every five years. If they need to deliver more homes, that could result in extra sites being allocated for housing development. We’ve explained how that can be done in this previous post.
5. Small site allocations
At the moment, the vast majority of sites which councils identify for development are large ones which only a few house builders can afford to develop. To encourage small and medium sized house builders to deliver more of the homes we need, councils must now identify enough small sites for development – less than 1 hectare – to meet 10% of their housing need.
This provides a new route for securing planning permission on small sites – and might even allow homes to be built on sites that would otherwise be considered unsuitable for development.
The Strategic Land Group are experts in using the planning system to secure planning permission for new homes.
Over the last ten years, we have worked with land owners to deliver planning permission on their sites at our cost and risk. Our return is a share of the value of the site once it is sold – so if we don’t succeed, it won’t cost you anything.
If you know of a site that might benefit from our approach, please don’t hesitate to get in touch for a free, no obligation consultation.