MHCLG published draft national planning practice guidance (NPPG) earlier this month, to supplement consultation on the draft National Planning Policy Framework. Here are five things you need to know about the draft guidance.

1. Councils that have failed to deliver 95 per cent of their housing need over three years will have to publish action plans within six months of the government publishing the first housing delivery test results this November, the draft says. The new test is intended to assess housing delivery – measured using official figures for net additional dwellings over a three-year period – against councils’ housing requirements.

2. Councils should review their strategic policies earlier than every five years where housing need calculated under the new standard method is found to be higher than in existing plans, the NPPG says. Such an early review may also be necessary “where neighbouring authorities have adopted plans that do not meet all of their local housing need”, in order “to assess whether that unmet need can be planned for”.

3. The use of viability assessments at the stage of deciding planning applications “should not be necessary”, the guidance says. Policy requirements in plans, including for affordable housing, “should be set at a level that allows for sites allocated in the plan to be delivered without the use of further viability assessment at the decision-making stage”.

4. Local planning authorities should “ideally” set housing requirement figures for designated neighbourhood areas but are not bound to do so, the draft says. Even where minimum housing requirements are set, a neighbourhood planning group “may propose an alternative figure in exceptional circumstances, where it has compelling evidence to support a departure from the strategic policies”

5. Councils who want to have their possession of a five year housing land supply confirmed in an annual statement will need to show that they have a supply ten per cent higher than the number required to meet need over the period, according to the draft guidance. Councils will be given the opportunity to demonstrate a five-year supply of specific deliverable housing sites through the preparation of an “annual land supply position statement”.

Consultation on the draft guidance runs until May 10. The document can be found here.

Source: David Dewar, Planning Resource, 19 March 2018

Local Comment: As we don’t live in an ‘ideal’ world, it is unlikely that the Forum will be given a neighbourhood plan housing requirement figure anytime soon.  The housing need assessment technical support package that we were awarded would now appear to be on hold indefinitely.  Without any such “compelling evidence”, it will not be possible to propose an figure of our own. – Philip Barton