Communities face “punishment” if developers fail to build enough homes in their areas, the Local Government Association (LGA) has warned after the Government published a revised version of the National Planning Policy Framework. Housing and Communities Secretary James Brokenshire said the new NPPF would make it easier for councils to challenge poor quality and unattractive development, and “give communities a greater voice about how developments should look and feel”.
But the LGA’s Conservative chair Lord Porter said “It is hugely disappointing that the Government has not listened to our concerns about nationally set housing targets, and will introduce a delivery test that punishes communities for homes not built by private developers. Councils work hard with communities to get support for good quality housing development locally, and there is a risk these reforms will lead to locally agreed plans being bypassed by national targets.”
Brokenshire said the revised NPPF would promote high quality design of new homes and places, give better environmental protection, secure “the right number of homes in the right places” and put greater responsibility and accountability for housing delivery on councils and developers. It also gives a new method for councils to calculate housing need and from November 2018 imposes the housing delivery test to which the LGA objects. This will penalise councils in areas where insufficient homes are built.
Lord Porter said “Planning is not a barrier to housebuilding, and councils are approving nine out of 10 applications. To boost the supply of homes and affordability, it is vital to give councils powers to ensure homes with permission are built, enable all councils to borrow to build, keep 100 per cent of Right to Buy receipts and set discounts locally”. Other major changes from the original NPPF include making it easier for councils to refuse permission for developments on grounds of poor design, and a more explicit protection for green belts.
Royal Town Planning Institute president John Acres welcomed clearer definitions of concepts like ‘sustainable development’ but warned about “the significant pressure the new NPPF requirements will put on local authority planning teams”. Acres added that “It is imperative that chief executives, council leaders and politicians resource planning departments sufficiently, particularly as they will now be held more accountable for delivery under the housing delivery test and are expected to carry out more regular reviews of their plans”.