Market Insight

Government publishes final National Planning Policy Framework

August 28, 2018

Further to the consultation in March 2018, the Government has published the final version of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF). This is now used in deciding all planning applications.

By means of an update to our previous blog, we have highlighted below a number of changes to the draft version of the NPPF, as well as a recap on some of the more significant policies contained within the document*:

Housing Delivery Test
  • In line with the Government’s aim to boost housing delivery, the Housing Delivery Test has been introduced. Under this test, a Local Authority’s housing policies are considered out of date if its rate of housing completions falls below 75% of its housing requirement. As a transitional arrangement, this threshold is reduced to 25% of housing need from November 2018 and rises to 45% in November 2019.
  • As a result of this test, Local Authorities may seek to allocate above their housing requirement in order to protect themselves from sites that do not deliver.

  • At least 10% of housing allocations should be on land of half a hectare or less. This is a reduction from the draft document’s requirement of 20%.
  • Affordable housing contributions should not be sought for developments that are not on major sites.
  • Local plans and spatial development strategies must, as a minimum, “seek to meet the area’s objectively assessed needs” to be declared sound. This objectively assessed need should follow the Government’s newly adopted Standardised Methodology for Assessing Housing Need.
  • Alongside the NPPF, the Government has published new guidance on producing viability assessments. Viability assessments are now required to follow this guidance as part of the revised NPPF. The new guidance states that all viability assessments should be publicly available and should follow a set of standardised inputs as listed in the guidance.

Local Plans
  • Plan reviews will be needed at least every five years where local housing need figures have or look set to “change significantly”.
  • Gavin Barwell’s Written Ministerial Statement protecting provisions within Neighbourhood Plans has been included, as per the draft NPPF published in March 2018. This added protection applies for the first 2 years after a Neighbourhood Plan is made where there is at least 3 year’s supply of housing land and a housing delivery rate of at least 45%.

  • The revised NPPF says that the specific locational requirements of storage and distribution operations should be recognised in planning policies and decisions. This policy was omitted from the draft NPPF published in March 2018.
  • In general, the revised NPPF appears to weaken protections for existing employment land compared to the 2012 version. The requirement for Local Authorities to “assess the needs for land or floorspace for economic development” has been removed. Instead, local planning authorities should have “regard to” local economic development and regeneration policies.

  • Local Authorities planning for town centres will no longer be expected to identify primary and secondary shopping frontages. Instead, they should “respond to rapid changes in the retail and leisure industries”.

Overall the revised NPPF is an evolution rather than a revolution of previous policy and includes a number of tweaks to the draft version published in March 2018. It places more emphasis on housing delivery compared to other tenures, particularly employment. In addition, the newly published viability guidance puts Local Authorities in a stronger negotiating position in viability cases.

This is by no means an exhaustive list of policies contained within the revised NPPF. If you have any queries on how the revised NPPF affects you or your client’s development prospects, please do not hesitate to contact the Vail Williams Planning Team, who will be able to assist you with your query.

*The final NPPF document can be found here.