National Planning Policy Framework - planning lawyer responds
Mishcon de Reya planning lawyer Daniel Farrand comments
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Commenting on the new draft national planning policy framework (NPPF) published today, which includes a range of measures aimed at both councils and developers, Mishcon de Reya planning lawyer Daniel Farrand said:
"A lot of the detail for both planners and developers in the NPPF will have to carry through into locally adopted plans. Some councils have struggled to adopt plans against a backdrop of moving goalposts and, in some cases, political discomfort with the sheer number of homes councils are being asked to plan for. The government will have to follow up this policy with its offer of help to struggling authorities and loss of planning powers for any authorities who might be avoiding or otherwise failing to deliver plans. One imagines that the development industry will not respond positively to everything in the NPPF, but any degree of certainty it - and new local plans - can deliver will no doubt be welcomed in these uncertain times.
"New rules on viability assessment will need careful consideration to ensure that they don't simply prevent possible housing sites being proposed, especially for owners who have other valuable uses for their land. There is little in the draft documents to lift the tension between the added cost of delivering homes which meet the legal definition of affordable housing, and the wider desire to ensure a rapid increase in housing supply and completions to act as a check on house price growth beyond what we might call affordable in everyday terms.
"Contrary to some expectations, today's suite of documents do not include a range of remedies for the question of "landbanking", though shorter life permissions are suggested for housing and lack of delivery under previous permissions will be a relevant consideration when reviewing new applications on existing sites. Sir Oliver Letwin is still to produce his interim report on causes of lack of housing delivery and that has to be assessed before wider decisions can be made on possible solutions to any actual problems identified.
"There are several areas, such as density, allocation of housing need and approach to affordability, where the NPPF and the Mayor's draft London Plan diverge. Individual London Boroughs will likely need to strike a balance with both when bringing their own plans forward."