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What Will The New National Planning Policy Framework Include?

By Ian Anderson, Partner, Development & Planning, UK

With a new draft National Planning Policy Framework rumoured for release on Monday 5th March, the 10 things we expect to see from the new NPPF are:

1. A Focus on Housing: With housing the Government’s stated top planning priority and Brexit taking up all available time in the House, implementation of last year’s Housing White Paper will principally fall to the NPPF to deliver. Expect to see the promotion of a Housing Delivery Test, requiring Authorities to plan for housing supply or face the prospect of ‘build anytime anywhere’, alongside an index linked approach to housing need,
based on ONS growth multiplied by a local affordability. There is also likely to be support for upward extensions and smaller ‘windfall’ sites which can deliver circa 10 dwellings, to assist the smaller builder.

Liverpool UK

2. Re-assertion of Plan-led: there has been nothing to suggest that the Government is proposing a radical move away from its ‘plan led’ approach. However, with circa 30% of the country still without an operational development plan, and new housing figures rendering many plans out-of-date, the NPPF will suggest greater flexibility in publishing and updating plans, to speed up the process.

3. Promotion of Greater Inter-Authority Collaboration: whilst we are unlikely to see the return of County Structure Plans, a greater focus will be brought by the NPPF on collaboration at strategic level between neighbouring Boroughs to meet housing and other needs through a duty to co-operate.

4. Support for the Build to Rent / Private Rental Sector: The importance of BTR/PRS as additional drivers of the housing market will be specifically referenced, with a recognition that these sectors may look at alternative ways of delivering affordable housing through ‘affordable rental’ provision.

5. Density Driven Development in Town Centres and Accessibility Nodes: Recognising the need for town centres to evolve from simply being places to shop, there will be a promotion of density-driven, residential led development within and on the edge of town centres and at key transport nodes, notably railway stations.

6. A Focus on Brownfield: if the lobbying is to be believed, then there will be a reassertion for a refocus on brownfield development wherever possible, with the promotion of ‘Permission in Principle’ for sites lodged on brownfield registers, or in plans and neighbourhood plans.

7. Further Encouragement for Neighbourhood Planning: whilst there has been numerous Neighbourhood Plans commenced, few have been adopted. However, the NPPF is due to further assert neighbourhood planning as a tool to help communities deliver development. It remains to be seen whether such localism overcomes NIMBYISM.

8. A Re-assertion for the protection of Green Belt: It’s unlikely the Government will make radical changes to Green Belt policy, especially given one of its key defenders, Dominic Raab, is now elevated to Minister for Housing and Planning, but there are those that remain hopeful that the new guidance will at least recognise that development that offers ‘betterment’ on those poor-quality sites within the Green Belt, will be supported.

9. The ‘Threat to Step in’: The Government has threatened to step into authorities who are failing their planning function and we expect this to be re-asserted, although it remains to be seen whether this will ever take place.

10. The Potential Reduction of Planning Permissions from 3 to 2 years: Finally, we consider there is a strong possibility that the NPPF will set a framework for the reduction of the lifetime of planning permissions to encourage quicker implementation, although this may risk a counter effect of dis-incentivising developers to apply for permissions on more complex sites.

The draft NPPF will be subject to full consultation, but is likely to be confirmed and published by the end of 2018.

Ian Anderson, Partner, Planning and Development
+44 (0)20 3296 2283

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