The Government has today published a revised draft of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) as part of a series of announcements to get Britain building again.
There is increasing recognition amongst Conservatives that their disastrous performance amongst the under 40s at last year’s General Election was in large part down to that generation feeling they will never get on to the housing ladder. In many parts of the south east, house prices are now ten times average salaries.
Opinion polls show there is now more support than ever for building, although there remains significant opposition, particularly from traditional Conservative voters. Since becoming Secretary of State, Sajid Javid has tried to square this political circle with rhetoric that is equally tough on councils and developers.
Over the weekend, he was at it again. Sundays newspapers were full of well-briefed stories about getting tough on ‘Nimby Councils’, stripping them of their powers and introducing higher housing targets. New development corporations would be established to build a string of new settlements between Oxford and Cambridge.
By Monday morning, it was developers that were getting the ire of Government. Theresa May’s article to traditional Conservative voters in the Telegraph sought to reassure them on the Greenbelt, traditional design and tougher rules on environment, air quality and noise.
As with Brexit, the Government are desperately trying to walk a tight rope that keeps all sides happy – but they might end up pleasing no one.
The consultations published today include a revised NPPF, viability, a ‘housing delivery test measurement rulebook.’ and developer contributions on affordable housing.
The main announcements focus on:
Local authorities will have a new housing delivery test focused on driving up the numbers of homes delivered in their area, rather than numbers planned for. Developers will also be held to account for delivering new housing, including affordable housing and the infrastructure needed to support communities.
Local authorities are to be encouraged to work together to close the gap between planning permissions granted and homes built. A new standardised approach to assessing housing need will be introduced with new measures to make the system of developer contributions clearer, simpler and more robust, so developers understand what’s expected of them and will be in no doubt that councils will hold them to their commitments.
Maximising the use of land
More freedom will be given to local authorities to make the most of existing brownfield land to build homes that maximise density. Development of redundant land, such as under-utilised retail or industrial space for homes, will also be encouraged, along with greater flexibility to build above existing flats, houses, shops and offices. These measures are designed to prioritise the building of new homes in urban areas first, maintaining strong protections for the Green Belt. The Government did, however, hint at allowing more flexibility of brownfield sites within the Greenbelt.
Maintaining strong protections for the environment
New regulations to ensure developments result in a ‘net gain’ to the environment where possible and increases the protection given to ancient woodland and the greenbelt will be introduced.
Ensuring the right homes are built
New requirements to ensure the delivery of affordable homes, including sites dedicated for first time buyers, build to rent homes with family friendly tenancies, guaranteed affordable homes for key workers and adapted homes for older people.
Higher quality design
More stringent quality standards will be introduced to strengthen the design code for new homes.
The consultations will run until Thursday 10 May 2018.