The government has published the new National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF 2023), promising to crack down on planning delays and scrapping the requirement for local authorities to allocate greenfield land to meet housing targets.

The NPPF 2023 sets out new expectations around housing delivery and targets, and includes the greater promotion of small sites for self and custom-build homes, set out in a new sub-paragraph in Para 70 (previously Para 69).

During the announcement by Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communitiese for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities Michael Gove at the RIBA headquarters in London, Gove called for more growth to be spread across the country.

The NPPF 2023, along with the new Levelling Up and Regeneration Act (LURA) and the Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project plan will help secure this, he explained.

“This infrastructure plan and the new Planning Framework have been designed to deal with the concerns, objections and obstacles which have stood in the way of the development we need, in the places that we need it. Over decades now we have not been providing the infrastructure we need at the pace we need it, nor have we been building the homes we need in the numbers we need to see,” said Gove.

Gove went on to say that there are five factors that are crucial to engaging people with new development: beauty, infrastructure, democracy, the environment and neighbourhood, principles that informed the new NPPF.

70. Small and medium sized sites can make an important contribution to meeting the housing requirement of an area, and are often built-out relatively quickly. To promote the development of a good mix of sites local planning authorities should:
a) identify, through the development plan and brownfield registers, land to accommodate at least 10% of their housing requirement on sites no larger than one hectare; unless it can be shown, through the preparation of relevant plan policies, that there are strong reasons why this 10% target cannot be achieved;
b) seek opportunities, through policies and decisions, to support small sites to come forward for community-led development for housing and self-build and custom build housing;
c) use tools such as area-wide design assessments, permission in principle and Local Development Orders to help bring small and medium sized sites forward; d) support the development of windfall sites through their policies and decisions – giving great weight to the benefits of using suitable sites within existing settlements for homes; and
e) work with developers to encourage the sub-division of large sites where this could help to speed up the delivery of homes.

In wider housing matters, under the NPPF 2023 Local Planning Authorities (LPAs) are not now required to maintain a rolling 5-year housing land supply. This is the case as long as the LPA has an adopted and inspector-examined local plan that is less than five years old, and it has been identified that the plan has at least a 5 year supply of specific, deliverable sites.

The Housing Delivery Test also remains in place, albeit with changes to the buffer requirements. During the consultation Government considered a ‘soundness’ test for local plans, but this has not been taken forward, with the ‘justified’ requirement remaining.

The Green Belt protection has been strengthened, as, once identified, there is now no requirement in paragraph 145 for the Green Belt boundaries to be reviewed or changed when local plans are being prepared or updated.

Image by KennethCW from Pixabay

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