08 January 2016, The consultation by DCLG, runs from 7th December 2015 to 22nd February 2016, seeks views on proposed changes to the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) and covers four key areas as set out below.
The current definition of affordable housing (NPPF, Appendix 2) includes social rented, affordable rented and intermediate housing, provided to eligible households whose needs are not met buy the market. It is proposed that the definition is amended to encompass a fuller range of affordable products for rent and home ownership including products that are analogous to low cost market housing or immediate rent such as discount market sales or innovative rent to buy housing. The aim is for this to support innovation by housings providers to meet the needs of a wider range of households who are not able to access market housing.
Increasing residential densities around commuter hubs
Paragraph 47 of the NPPF enables local planning authorities (LPA) to set their own policy on the density of new housing. It is proposed that the NPPF is changed so that LPA are required to focus higher density development around commuter hubs. A commuter hub would be defined as:
• A public transport interchange; and
• A place that has, or could have in the future, a frequent service to that interchange.
New settlements, Brownfield Land and delivery of housing agreed in Local Plans
The NPPF recognises that LPA may plan for the supply of new homes through larger scale developments such as new settlements or urban extensions. It is proposed to provide a more supportive approach for new settlements within locally led plans where the sites can meet national sustainability objectives. It is also proposed that substantial weight should be given to the benefits of using brownfield land for housing development (in effect, a form of ‘presumption’ in favour of brownfield land); and to strengthen the incentive for delivery on consented sites, that the NPPF is amended to ensure that action is taken where there is a significant under-delivery of housing over a sustained period.
Delivery of starter homes
To ensure that land is released under the exception site policy for starter homes, it is proposed that the NPPF is amended to be clear that unviable or underused employment land should be released unless there is significant or compelling evidence to justify why such land should be retained for employment use. Alongside this, it is proposed that the scope of the current exception site policy for starter homes is widened to incorporate other forms of unviable or underused brownfield land, such as land that was previously in retail, leisure and non-residential institutional uses.
Finally, it is proposed that the current policy test in paragraph 89 of the NPPF is amended. The test currently prevents development of brownfield land where there is any additional impact on the openness of the Greenbelt. This will give more flexibility and enable suitable, sensitively designed redevelopment to come forward on brownfield sites in the Green Belt. This would allow them to be developed in the same way as other brownfield land, provided they contribute to the delivery of starter homes and subject to local consultation.