Poor quality or unattractive housing developments will be more easily changed by councils under new rules that form part of the revised National Planning Policy Framework, the government has claimed.
Publishing the revised framework, following a public consultation earlier this year, the government said it would:
- promote high quality design of new homes and places
- offer stronger protection for the environment
- allow the construction of the right number of homes in the right places
- focus on greater responsibility and accountability for housing delivery from councils and developers.
The revision of the National Planning Policy Framework is part of the government’s ambition to build 300,000 new homes a year by the mid 2020s and incorporates 85 proposals set out in the housing white paper and the Budget.
Under the revised framework, councils will have the power to refuse permission for development that does not prioritise design quality and does not complement its surroundings.
It will also encourage councils to make use of new visual tools to promote better design and quality and will set a strategic direction for driving up new build quality, although it will remain up to councils to apply these policies in the most appropriate way in their area.
There will be a greater importance on air quality, as the framework has also been updated to provide further protection for biodiversity, aligning the planning system more closely with the Department for Food, Environment and Rural Affairs’ (Defra) 25-year Environment Plan, which offers more protection for habitats and places greater importance on air quality when deciding development proposals.
The framework also sets out a new way for councils to calculate the housing need for their local community, with the aim of delivering more homes where they are most needed, and from November 2018 councils will have a Housing Delivery Test, focused on driving up the number of homes delivered in an area, rather than how many are planned for.
Communities secretary James Brokenshire said: “Fundamental to building the homes our country needs is ensuring that our planning system is fit for the future. To maximise the use of land we are promoting more effective use of the land available and giving councils more confidence to refuse applications that don’t provide enough homes”
“This revised planning framework sets out our vision of a planning system that delivers the homes we need. I am clear that quantity must never compromise the quality of what is built, and this is reflected in the new rules.”
The framework also sets out a new way for councils to calculate the housing need of their local community, including different forms of housing, such as older people’s retirement homes. According to Brokenshire the new methodology aims to deliver more homes in the places where they are most needed, based on factors including the affordability of existing homes for people on lower and medium incomes.
The government said councils would be required to take a Housing Delivery Test from November this year, “designed to drive up the numbers of homes actually delivered in their area, rather than how many are planned for”.
The government repeated its goal to building 300,000 new homes a year “by the mid-2020s”.
The new rules will see 85 of the proposals set out in the most recent Budget and in the housing white paper – published in February 2017 – implemented in the new framework.
Responding to the latest document the British Property Federation said the NPPF “rightly embraces multi-tenure housing delivery, higher quality design of new homes and the benefits of the build-to-rent sector, [but] the nation’s town centres and the industrial and logistics sectors still require more support from planning policy”.
BPF director of real estate policy Ian Fletcher said the planning system for town centres was still too inflexible and outdated. “The way people use town centres is changing, and in turn town centres must be able to respond more quickly and innovatively to this.
“Leadership needs to come from local authorities and the starting point is a supportive planning policy. Local authorities should be given the resource to regularly monitor retail trends and adapt town centre planning policies accordingly.”
And Mark Sitch, senior partner at design consultancy Barton Willmore, said he was disappointed to see that the industry’s “substantial feedback” had not found its way into the final framework.
“There are however no big surprises and no real changes. The focus remains on housing. Overall, there is less, not more, for those looking to deliver employment floorspace. This may be a critical oversight as we all move towards a post-Brexit economy.”
But Paul Smith, managing director of planning consultancy the Strategic Land Group, said that while none of the NPPF policies were “game changing in themselves, they represent an evolution of the original NPPF which has, in reality, worked quite well. The number of homes granted planning permission has almost doubled since it was introduced.”
Source: Construction Manager Magazine / Building.co.uk