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Review of the Revised NPPF

The Revised NPPF

Along with the revised NPPF which was released on the 24th, the PPG documents have been updated  to include guidance on the Housing Delivery TestViability and Housing and Economic Needs Assessment.

We have provided an overview of the main changes from the draft released in March this year and the significant implications from the original 2012 NPPF.

 

Implementation

  • The key issue of note is that the Framework comes into immediate effect for development management purposes.
  • In terms of development plan policy however the Framework will operate under a transitional period. Any plan which was submitted before 24 January 2019 will be assessed against the previous NPPF and PPG.
  • This may trigger some LPAs to decide whether the new standardised methodology for calculating housing need will be more beneficial and therefore whether to delay submission or conversely submit earlier depending on the calculations.

 

Calculating Housing Need

  • The standardised methodology for calculating housing need remains as it was set out in the draft NPPF published in March 2018, however it is now to be reviewed in September this year, following the publication of the latest housing projections and could yet change again.

 

Housing Delivery

  • The presumption in favour of sustainable development, which was updated in the Draft, sets out that it will apply where housing delivery is below 75% of the requirement; in line with the Housing Delivery Test. It will again operate under a transitional period up to November 2020.

 

Viability

  • The majority of guidance on viability is now set out in the revised PPG, but the amended NPPF does allow for greater scope to present viability evidence to support an application.
  • There are significant changes regarding when further viability assessments may be required set out in paragraph 57.
  • Greater weight has been given to LPAs in their ability to make a decision based on the evidence provided.
  • Stakeholders are encouraged to have greater involvement in the plan making process.
  • Viability information is to be made public unless there are specific circumstances for confidentiality.

 

Economic Development

  • Paragraph 82 has been updated from the draft with new text on addressing the specific locational requirement of different sectors. For those businesses such as high tech industries or storage and distribution companies, this could be particularly important and give added weight where location is crucial.
  • The draft has also been amended in paragraph 84 relating to local businesses in rural areas which may need to be sited outside existing settlements. The update states that sites may be adjacent to or beyond existing settlements, which are not well served by public transport.

 

Retail

  • The long term viability of the town centre and its need to adapt has been recognised. It sets out that LPAs should identify the ranges of uses permitted. The previous draft wording on the decline of town centres however has now been removed.

 

Affordable Housing Thresholds

  • Previously the threshold for provision of non-AONB affordable housing as described in the Ministerial Statement of 28 Nov 2014 (‘Support for small scale developers, custom and self-builders’) was for schemes of 11+ dwellings (or with a maximum combined gross floorspace of 1,000sq.m.). In AONBs / National Parks etc LPAs were able to introduce a lower threshold of 5 units or less.  Paragraph 63 of the latest NPPF now indicates that “Provision of affordable housing should not be sought for residential developments that are not major developments, other than in designated rural areas (where policies may set out a lower threshold of 5 units or fewer).”  The Glossary defines major development as being 10+ dwellings or sites of 0.5 hectares or more.  Therefore, it appears that the threshold has reduced from schemes of 11+ dwellings to schemes of 10+ dwellings.

Affordable Housing Definition

  • Paragraph 64 now expects 10% of homes on major development to be available for affordable home ownership unless this would exceed the level of affordable housing required in the area, or significantly prejudice the ability to meet the identified affordable housing needs of specific groups.
  • The definition in the Glossary now includes:
    • Affordable Housing for Rent (social or affordable rent, or at least 20% below local market rents)
    • Starter Homes
    • Discounted Market Sale (at least 20% below local market value)
    • Other Affordable Routes to Home Ownership (eg shared ownership, relevant equity loans, other low cost homes for sale (at a price equivalent to at least 20% below local market value) and rent to buy (which includes a period of intermediate rent))

(NB see also Entry Level Exception Sites – NPPF Paragraph 71 – and below)

 

Neighbourhood Plans

  • The amended NPPF given further protection to Neighbourhood Plans, following on from the Written Ministerial Statement in December 2016. The revised NPPF brings into effect the reduced requirement to demonstrate a 3 year land supply in areas where a Neighbourhood Plan has been Made within the last two years (up to and including 11 December 2018).
  • However this only applies where the Neighbourhood Plan contains housing policies and allocations to meet identified housing requirements, in addition to the LPA demonstrating that their housing delivery was at least 45% of that required over the previous three years.
  • The phasing of the Housing Delivery Test is means that from November 2018 to November 2019 the housing delivery in the District / Borough should be 25% of that required over the previous three years. From November 2019 onwards it should be at least 45% of that required over the previous three years. See paragraphs 14 and Annex 1 of the new NPPF, para 216b).

Paragraph 69 also sets out that neighbourhood plans should consider identifying both small and medium sizes sites for housing (sites up to one hectare in area).

 

Identifying Sites

  • The previous draft identified that small sites made an important contribution to meeting the housing requirement, particularly as they can be delivered quickly. It then went on to set out that of the identified housing sites allocation, at least 20% should be small sites of half a hectare or less. The amended NPPF has reduced this requirement down to 10%, with a size limit of one hectare or less and includes the use of the brownfield registers. There is also a caveat that will allow LPAs to demonstrate where such a figure is not appropriate.
  • Support is expected to be given by LPAs to the development of windfall sites (note ‘windfall sites’ have been more clearly defined in the Glossary, Annex 2 of the new NPPF) in their policies and decisions, with ‘great weight’ being given to the benefits of using suitable sites within existing settlements for homes (paragraph 68). There may also be potential to sub-divide sites, where this would speed up delivery. They should also consider using tools such as area wide design assessments and Local Development Orders.

 

Entry Level/ Affordable Exception Sites

  • Draft paragraph 71 which potentially allowed sites on the edge of settlement to come forward outside of the Plan making process, has been amended. This will apply to both affordable and entry level homes, the latter which are defined in Annex 2 as being suitable for first time buyers (or equivalent for those looking to rent).
  • In addition to being on the edge of the settlement, such sites will now need to be proportionate in size to the settlement, comply with development plan policies and standards, as well as not compromising any protected assets or areas of importance as defined in the NPPF, such as heritage assets, landscape/habitat designations etc.
  • Paragraph 77 supports rural exception sites that will provide affordable housing to meet identified local needs. It continues to urge LPAs to consider whether allowing some market housing on these sites would help to facilitate their delivery.

 

Parking Standards

  • The use of maximum parking standard only where necessary has continued through from the draft NPPF. The amended NPPF has added further wording relating to locations well served by public transport. The fact that LPAs are still allowed to justify where maximum standards are required will likely mean that there is little change.

 

Transport Effects of Development

  • Paragraph 109 continues the previous approach that development should only be refused on highway grounds where the residual effects are ‘severe’. It now advises that development should only be prevented or refused on highway grounds where “…..there would be an unacceptable impact on highway safety, or the residual cumulative impacts on the road network would be severe.”

 

Good Design

  • Achieving high quality design remains an important issue with further wording added to the draft to strengthen this aim. In particular is the need for clear design expectations from the LPAS and how this can be achieved and tested. As well as giving further weight to encouraging community engagement in the design process via a variety of methods. It continues to recommend that LPAs should give regard to the outcome of such in addition to other recommendations made by Design Review panels etc.
  • Footnote 46 encourages new policies to include technical standards for accessibility and adaptability as well as the nationally described space standards.
  • Also of note is that LPAs should ensure that there should be little change in design quality between the granting of permission and the final build quality – i.e. that minor amendments and alterations should not be permitted where it would materially diminish the overall quality.

 

Green Belt

  • There has been little change between the draft and final amended version on Green Belts, however one point of note is that the strategic policy-making authority should be able to demonstrate that it has fully examined all other reasonable options for meeting its identified need for development..

 

Major Development Within AONBs

  • The draft NPPF caused some confusion over the definition of ‘major’ development within AONBs. The revised NPPF sets out at footnote 55 that it is a matter for the decision maker to determine what is major; continuing on from the previous NPPF. This is to be distinguished from the Glossary definition of major development which relates to Non-AONB matters .

 

Previously Developed Land

  • The definition of PDL appears to continue to exclude garden land but only where it lies within a built up area.
  • However LPAs are urged to consider policies to resist inappropriate development of residential gardens (citing where development would cause harm to the local area as an example) – see paragraph 70.

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