NaCSBA Chair Michael Holmes responds to the Government’s draft revised National Planning Policy Framework and its potential for creating plots through small sites.On 5 March Theresa May launched the Government’s new draft National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF),with a new consultation that includes a consultation request about small sites.

The NPPF brings forward proposals announced in the Housing White Paper last year and Planning for the Right Homes in the Right Places, which identified the need for local authorities to evidence a range of types and tenure of homes, including self-build and custom build developments.

In response to the draft revised National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF), NaCSBA Chair Michael Holmes (pictured) said: “We support the proposed revisions to the NPPF focussed on building more new homes to help beat the housing crisis.

“NaCSBA believes that individuals commissioning or building their own home will play an increasingly important role in delivering the Government’s objective to build 300,000 new homes per year.

NaCSBA Chair Michael Holmes

“Owner-commissioned or owner-built housing is a major component of new housing in other developed countries, delivering on average 39%, providing homebuyers with greater choice, and improved diversity, sustainability and affordability.

“There is enormous demand for such housing in this country, and the revisions to the NPPF will help to make more land available for such homes.

“The draft revision states in Paragraph 62 that local authorities must assess the level of demand in their area from those who would like to commission or build their own home. This requirement is backed up by the existing ‘Right to Build’ legislation which requires councils to grant planning permission for sufficient serviced plots to meet local demand for Custom and Self-build homes.

“Many of the proposed revisions to the NPPF, such as the requirement for councils to include a minimum 20% of sites identified for new housing in their plans to be 0.5 hectares or less (1.2 acres), will make it easier for councils to fulfil their legal duty to deliver sufficient serviced plots to meet demand from those who would like to commission or build their own home.

“NaCSBA’s survey of the councils’ Right to Build registers indicates that 33,000 people had signed up by the end of the first full year on October 31st 2017. This number is expected to grow significantly as the public become aware of the Right to Build.

“The draft revised NPPF and accompanying documents also give recognition to Custom and Self-build as a route to achieving a more affordable home, paving the way for schemes that deliver genuinely affordable housing.

“NaCSBA believes that Custom and Self-build can also play an important role in increasing the rate that large development sites are built out. If councils required such sites to include serviced plots, released in phases, with a choice of local SME builders competing to build a custom home for buyers, many more would choose a new home over existing housing stock.

“Low cost and shared ownership plots could also be included in the mix. In the same way, NaCSBA believes that the proposed new garden towns and villages could all be built-out much faster if homebuyers are given a choice of plot and freedom to design the home they want to live in.

NaCSBA will be responding to the NPPF consultation, including new proposals for an exception site policy for Custom and Self-build homes which would allow the continued incremental growth of small rural settlements where there is identified local housing need, for instance through the Right to Build registers.

“Currently, proposals from local people hoping to build their own home within or on the edge of an existing settlement that is not identified in the local plan as having an established ‘settlement boundary’ are treated in the same way as isolated new homes in the open country.

“All the normal policies on development control for new housing would apply, but there would no longer be an assumption that such housing is unsustainable in rural locations on transport grounds and should therefore be refused.

“Where councils choose to ensure priority is given to members of the local community, the Custom and Self-build exception site policy could be linked to a local connection test already recognised in the Right to Build legislation.

“NaCSBA believes that such a policy would result in 10,000 additional new rural homes a year and help to ensure the ongoing viability of many small rural settlements threatened with the loss of community amenities.

“Meanwhile, NaCSBA’s Right to Build Task Force continues to work closely with local authorities, community groups and affordable housing providers looking to bring forward affordable serviced plots for Custom and Self-build homes.”

You can have you say on the Small Sites Consultation by responding online. Question 11 is specifically refers to Small Sites. 

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