With very little fanfare the Government have recently made a number of substantial changes to Planning Practice Guidance (PPG) with some of them expected to prove fairly fundamental when interpreting the intentions of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) in particular. We consider the key changes to be as follows:
- A new short section on Green Belt. This provides advice on two specific issues. The first is what should be considered when assessing openness introducing new themes relating to perceptions of openness and urbanisation. The second issue covered is the nature of compensatory measures appropriate to justify the removal of land from the Green Belt during plan making.
- Extensive guidance on housing land supply. This pulls together the relevant strands of case law, existing guidance, technical notes and the NPPF into one comprehensive rule book. It covers matters in respect of the definition of deliverability, what can be included in a Council’s supply, how to calculate and apply buffers and a lengthy sub-section explaining how Councils can fix their housing land supply for a year. Some of the points of clarification confirm the following:
- The types of evidence that Councils can rely on to demonstrate deliverability. This paragraph includes a recommendation that the HELAA should be used as an opportunity to demonstrate the deliverability of sites, especially in the urban area;
- The detail of how a Council should set about fixing their 5YHLS position for a period of a year. Where a local authority seeks to rely on the trajectory of a recently adopted local plan it must include at least a 10% uplift on its housing need to be considered robust;
- A minimum list of parties who should be engaged to allow an Inspector to confirm and ‘fix’ a Council’s housing land supply position. This includes all landowners and promoters with an interest in the sites to be included in the trajectory;
- In areas covered by a Joint Plan its strategic policies should be clear in setting out whether housing monitoring and the assessment of supply is to be done on a District by District basis, an urban rural basis or across the whole plan area;
- In respect of housing delivery, it explains the required extent of Action Plans for authorities falling under 95% of their delivery target.
- A short section on effective use of land. This includes the explanation of circumstances where the development of an allocated site with an alternative use could be justified – this should be led by evidence demonstrating some or all of any failed marketing, lack of need, change of circumstances (e.g. market trends). It also clarifies the types of sites where higher densities could be justified.
- Housing needs for different groups. This section emphasises the high-level nature of the Local Housing Need figure and that a SHMA will still likely be required to assess the needs of specific groups, unit size etc. A new paragraph also solidifies previous Government advice that blanket policies restricting housing in rural villages will require clear justification.
The updates include changes to 15 further sections of the PPG including a clearer set of rules for the ‘agent of change’ in instances where there will be noise impact, a clearer methodology on how Council’s should assess the availability of housing sites as part of the local plan process and guidance on how to identify needs for strategic uses such as logistics.
If you would like to discuss and of the changes to the PPG, highlighted above or otherwise, we would be pleased to assist.