New planning framework ’will give more power to councils to reject bad schemes’

James Brokenshire in parliament on 30 April, 2018

Source: Parliament TV

Housing, communities and local government secretary James Brokenshire

The government today published the revised National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF), saying it will help councils challenge bad housing developments more effectively and give local people a bigger say over the sort of homes built in their neighbourhood.

Publication followed a public consultation launched earlier this year by the prime minister which garnered more than 29,000 responses.

Housing secretary James Brokenshire said the government had made “a number of important changes” to the draft NPPF and the new rule book would now focus on building the right number of quality new homes in the right locations, stronger protection for the environment and greater responsibility and accountability for housing delivery from councils and developers.

“To maximise the use of land we are promoting more effective use of the land available and giving councils more confidence to refuse applications that don’t provide enough homes,” Brokenshire said.

And while councils have been given what Brokenshire called “real flexibility” to make the most of existing brownfield land, the revised framework meant local authorities had to “exhaust all other reasonable options for development before looking to alter a Green Belt boundary”.

The framework also sets out a new way for councils to calculate the housing need of their local community, including different forms of housing, such as older people’s retirement homes.

“This new methodology aims to deliver more homes in the places where they are most needed, based on factors including the affordability of existing homes for people on lower and medium incomes,” the housing secretary added.

The government said councils would be required to take a Housing Delivery Test from November this year, “designed to drive up the numbers of homes actually delivered in their area, rather than how many are planned for”.

Clearer guidance for developers and councils has also been published which the government said “means that developers will know what is expected of them up front, even before they submit a planning application, and councils have greater power to hold them to these commitments”.

Brokenshire added: “This revised planning framework sets out our vision of a planning system that delivers the homes we need. I am clear that quantity must never compromise the quality of what is built, and this is reflected in the new rules.”

The government repeated its goal to building 300,000 new homes a year “by the mid-2020s”.

The new rules will see 85 of the proposals set out in the most recent Budget and in the housing white paper – published in February 2017 – implemented in the new framework.