Thursday, 14 January 2016

NPPF changes consultation (22 February 2016) - you may want to say something...

The following is a very brief run-through of what I have picked out as key issues for some of my clients…

Affordable housing - broadening the definition to include any affordable products for rent or for ownership, and lifting the requirement that all of these products would have to be affordable ‘in perpetuity’ or have the money released recycled back into providing further affordable housing.
Starter homes – making clearer that these should be considered on underused or unviable commercial / employment sites and rural exception sites.  These would be subject to the same minimum time limits on resale (5 years) as other starter homes but local planning authorities could, exceptionally, require a local connection test for example where access to the housing market for working people can be difficult and would be consistent with existing policy on rural exception sites.  Also make clear that Neighbourhood Plans can allocate Starter Home sites in the Green Belt.
These two changes will bring in more options by which affordable homes could provide a suitable solution, but it will be important for those groups preparing neighbourhood plans to be clear whether specific local connection or other issues might be required, and have evidence to support this.

Brownfield sites – strengthening the ‘presumption’ in favour of brownfield land unless there are overriding conflicts with the Local Plan or National Planning Policy that cannot be mitigated.
Small sites (of less than 10 units) adjoining settlement boundaries – making clear that proposals for development on such sites should be supported if they are sustainable.

The consideration of small sites adjoining settlement boundaries could mean that some sites that were dismissed in neighbourhood plans could still come forward for open market housing, which may mean that some neighbourhood plan groups will feel that their ability to shape future development is effectively undermined.
Housing delivery test - introducing a new measurement for under-delivery possibly based on completions compared to the housing targets (or trajectories), and requiring the local planning authority to identify additional sustainable sites if the existing approach is considerable below the housing required through a rapid and targeted plan review.

This is unlikely to be a key issue for more rural parts, but could have implications for sites around the main towns, though any ‘quick’ allocations would still need to go through consultation and examination.
Commuter hubs and higher density housing – where there is a rail interchange that has, or could have in the future, a frequent (15 minutes at peak times) service to that stop, local planning authorities should require higher density housing development. 

Interesting choice of wording – although I don’t think there are any places outside of the conurbation in Dorset where this could apply, it could be argued that everywhere is a possibility!
If the above raises any concerns, it is worth putting in a response to the consultation, rather than hoping that others will...