The Housing White Paper “Fixing our broken housing market” was published on 07 February 2017. Here’s our summary of the main proposals:
Local plans are to be reviewed at least every five years.
LPA cross-boundary working is encouraged with authorities required to have a statement of common ground as a minimum to indicate how they will work together to meet housing need.
A new standardised approach to assessing housing needs is to be introduced by April 2018 and amendments to the NPPF to allow local authorities to have their housing land supply agreed on an annual basis and fixed for a one year period. Fixing for a one year period may be subject to a 10% buffer on the five-year housing supply requirement and subject to the land supply being agreed independently by the planning inspectorate.
A new housing delivery test is proposed, requiring an action plan for poor delivery and applying the presumption in favour of sustainable development where development is significantly below target. A 20% buffer on the five-year land supply would be applied where delivery falls below 85%. The presumption would apply if delivery is below 25% in 2018 rising to 45% in 2019 and 65% in 2020.
Greater support is given to neighbourhood planning and reiterating the commitment that plans should not be deemed out of date unless there is a significant lack of land supply (below 3 years), where there is a neighbourhood plan in place which allocates land for housing.
NPPF to be strengthened on expectations for delivering housing for older and disabled people and a new statutory duty is to be introduced on meeting the demand for such accommodation.
NPPF to be amended to give great weight to use of brownfield land.
Funding boosts for local authorities building their own homes and also to help plan for new homes in areas of greatest need.
Greater support for small windfall sites with great weight to be given to the use of small undeveloped sites within settlements for homes.
Green belt policy is strengthened although housing is encouraged on brownfield/former employment sites in the greenbelt.
At least 10% of sites allocated for residential development in local plans should 0.5 hectares or less.
Affordable housing exception sites to include starter home products subject to a local connection test.
New policy expectation that at least 10% affordable housing should be delivered on major sites.
Grant funding to registered providers now relaxed to allow for affordable rent as well as shared ownership.
Potential reform of CIL and developer contributions.
Brownfield employment protection policies to be loosened where it will make way for housing and specifically starter homes.
1% rent reduction to remain in place until 2020.
A new definition of affordable housing is proposed as per the below:
Proposal to reduce the time limit for commencement to 2 years.
Application form to be amended to include a start date and details of build out rate to be submitted.
Proposals for weight to be given to how realistic the development is to take place, the speed of delivery and the applicants track record in making a decision.
Completion notice legislation is to be reviewed and the possibility to allow service where development has begun and ceased but the commencement deadline has not lapsed.
Design & Density
Design policies are to have clearer expectations and as a result design should not to be used as a valid reason to object to development where it accords with clear design expectations set out in development plans.
Emphasis on density of development which should not only reflect local character but also the areas accessibility and infrastructure capacity. It also promotes flexible use of policies which could dilute densities such as open space requirements where there is sufficient provision in an area.
National Space Standards to be reviewed to ensure greater choice (the indication is that minimum standards will be reduced).
Planning application fee increase of 20% if reinvested into planning departments and a further 20% if delivering sufficient housing.
Possible introduction of fees for planning appeals (capped at £2000) which may be refunded if the appeal is allowed.
Proposed revised wording of the Presumption in Favour of Sustainable Development
Revised wording is proposed for the Presumption in Favour of Sustainable Development:
As usual the devil will be in the detail. There are some useful proposals such as making it clearer if a local planning authority has a housing land supply or not, particularly if this is verified by a planning inspector and holds for a one-year period. The changes may enhance the scope for gaining consents for starter homes and housing for the elderly and disabled outside of development boundaries. Other proposals are likely to have a rockier ride such as the desire to give weight to the applicants track record and the likelihood of building the scheme out quickly. This goes against the land use planning system and brings in to question such matters as personal consents. It is unclear how any suggested timeframe might be secured.