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Housing delivery the ‘silver bullet’ in NPPF and crisis rhetoric?

IM Land’s Strategic Land Director Jonathan Dyke reacts to the recent Government announcement

On the day that the first NPPF re-write in six years was launched to consultation, the Prime Minister challenged the industry to ‘do their duty’ to build the homes the UK needs.  Theresa May pointed fully to the disparity between rising planning permissions and the housing crisis.   The 17-chapter NPPF review and 43 questions about how changes could help build on last year’s completions (217,000 for 2016/7), seeks to address this disparity.

The Government are trying to get to the bottom of the non-delivery of planning permissions with Sajid Javid for suggesting NIMBY councils not hitting targets will be stripped of powers. There is a focus on avoiding First-time buyers from being locked out of the housing market.   However, at the heart of all these key issues is the need for deliverability to be prime focus for Local Authorities and the Industry.

All the proposed changes to the NPPF boil down to need, supply and ultimately the ability to deliver more and more homes.  One of the headline-grabbers is the Housing Delivery Test, a move that would penalise councils not meeting their completion targets.  I welcome this move and the means to encourage local authorities to properly and sensibly engage with applicants over what can be achieved.

We have good relationships in the areas we’ve worked for the simple fact that we do ‘deliver’.  We identify considered and appropriate sites and bring forward thought-through applications, but crucially, we get on and work with partners that will make them a reality – and within a reasonable delivery timeframe

This said, the ‘where to locate housing growth’ is a significant consideration.  The proposed NPPF revisions take on standard approaches to objectively assessing housing need, increasing brownfield densities and a reiterated protection of the Green Belt.  From a Promoter’s view, although a more thorough review of Green Belt policy would have been welcomed, we can work with the NPPF position on Green Belt, which still allows Local Authorities the powers to review Green Belt through the Local Plan process and more guidance, which is always useful.

Proposed changes to S106 contributions and viability appraisals aim to increase transparency in the planning process.  However, the crux of this latest review is that we need more homes in the right places.  This is a goal that the Government, councils, the industry and those wanting to get on the housing ladder all buy into.

We are advancing projects that underpin not only housing needs, but economic growth.  This includes community infrastructure, spaces for businesses to locate to and grow, retail floorspace, sports and leisure facilities and schools among others.  While much of the rhetoric focuses on housing, we shouldn’t lose sight of the fact that we want thriving communities, and that’s not just homes.

We’ll continue to do this, putting deliverability at the heart of what we achieve.  My ask is that the public sector embraces what we can offer in a pragmatic way.