Action Plans Amongst Key Measures Outlined in the Draft PPG
Earlier this month, the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government published draft national planning practice guidance (PPG) to supplement consultation on the draft National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF). Here is a summary of some of the key measures outlined in the update:-
- Action Plans – The Secretary of State will publish the Housing Delivery Test results for every local authority in England in November, measuring delivery of additional dwellings over a three-year period against each council’s housing requirement. Those that have failed to deliver at least 95% of their housing need over this period will be required to publish action plans within six months. If housing delivery falls below 85%, a 20% buffer on top of a council’s five-year supply will be applied to force affirmative action and, in circumstances where housing delivery falls below 75%, a presumption in favour of sustainable development will be applied to expedite development.
- Reviewing policies – Where housing need calculated using the new standard method is higher than in existing plans, councils will need to review their strategic policies earlier than every five years. An early review may also be necessary “where neighbouring authorities have adopted plans that do not meet all of their local housing need”, in order “to assess whether that unmet need can be planned for”.
- Viability Assessments – The guidance states that use of viability assessments at the planning application decision stage “should not be necessary”. The draft PPG states that viability assessment is “primarily” at the plan-making stage and “should not compromise” the quality of the development but should ensure that policies are realistic. In defining land value for any viability assessment, a benchmark land value should be calculated. This should be based on the existing use of the land plus a premium for the landowner. “An assumption of 20% of gross development value may be considered a suitable return to developers in order to establish viability of the plan policies,” the draft says. Whereas with affordable housing, a lower figure of 6% may be more appropriate “where this guarantees an end sale at a known value and reduces the risk.”
- Neighbourhood Plans – Local planning authorities are not required to set housing requirement figures for designated neighbourhood areas. However, as there is no specific method for calculating the housing need for a particular neighbourhood area, the authority’s housing need, as well as relevant policies, the spatial strategy and evidence such as population should be taken into account. Draft PPG states even where minimum housing requirements are set, a neighbourhood planning group “may propose an alternative figure in exceptional circumstances, where it has compelling evidence to support a departure from the strategic policies”.
- Five-year housing land supply – Through the preparation of an “annual land supply statement”, councils will be given the opportunity to demonstrate a five-year supply of specific deliverable housing sites. According to the draft guidance, councils who want to have their five-year housing land supply confirmed in an annual statement will need to show they have a supply of 10% higher than the number required during that period.
Consultation on the draft guidance will run until May 10th.