Following from last year’s Technical Consultation on Updates to National Planning Policy and Guidance, an updated NPPF was published on the 19th February 2019. This document replaces the first NPPF published in March 2012 and includes minor clarifications to the revised version published in July 2018. https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/national-planning-policy-framework--2
The changes to the Framework are minor in respect of wording – three in total – but follow through on the Technical Consultation’s intent to clarify, remove ambiguity and close some of the potential loopholes that existed in respect of the application of policy.
The amendments are as follows:
Section 5: Delivering a sufficient supply of homes
Footnote 37 has been amended. This relates to instances where, when calculating a Council’s 5-year supply, the strategic policies of the development plan are over 5 years old and the local need figure should be used. The footnote now includes the following line:
“Where local housing need is used as the basis for assessing whether a five-year supply of specific deliverable sites exists, it should be calculated using the standard method set out in national planning guidance.”
As a companion to this amendment the definition of ‘Local Housing Need’ has also been updated in the Glossary. It now reads:
“The number of homes identified as being needed through the application of the standard method set out in national planning guidance (or, in the context of preparing strategic policies only, this may be calculated using a justified alternative approach as provided for in paragraph 60 of this Framework).”
Combined, these changes are intended to end the debate around whether an additional means of calculating a Council’s annual requirement (i.e. a draft SHMA) can be used when undertaking their 5 year land supply assessments when their strategic policies are more than 5 years old. Quite simply, for 5 year land supply purposes the output of the standard methodology should be used.
Section 15: Conserving and enhancing the natural environment
Paragraph 177 has been amended in response to the People Against Wind judgement. It now makes clear that the presumption in favour of sustainable development is disapplied only where an appropriate assessment has concluded that there is no suitable mitigation strategy in place.
“The presumption in favour of sustainable development does not apply where the plan or project is likely to have a significant effect on a habitats site (either alone or in combination with other plans or projects), unless an appropriate assessment has concluded that there will be no adverse effect from the plan or project on the integrity of the habitats site.”
Definition of ‘Deliverable’
The definition has been ‘tidied up’ rather than amended or tightened. This is intended to end the speculation around the meaning of the word that arose largely on the back of the Woolpit decision (APP/W3520/W/18/3194926).
Specific clarification has been provided in respect of the way in which small sites and sites without detailed consent should be assessed to conclude on their deliverability.
It now reads as follows:
“Deliverable: To be considered deliverable, sites for housing should be available now, offer a suitable location for development now, and be achievable with a realistic prospect that housing will be delivered on the site within five years. In particular:
a) sites which do not involve major development and have planning permission, and all sites with detailed planning permission, should be considered deliverable until permission expires, unless there is clear evidence that homes will not be delivered within five years (for example because they are no longer viable, there is no longer a demand for the type of units or sites have long term phasing plans).
b) where a site has outline planning permission for major development, has been allocated in a development plan, has a grant of permission in principle, or is identified on a brownfield register, it should only be considered deliverable where there is clear evidence that housing completions will begin on site within five years.”