Lichfields’ sixth annual review of Local Plan production under the original National Planning Policy Framework 2012 (NPPF 2012) shows that only half of Local Planning authorities have put in place a Local Plan under its auspices, and highlights how even those authorities with an adopted plan will quickly need to grapple with the Government’s reforms in the updated framework.
From its outset, the NPPF 2012 was expected to entail a ‘simpler, swifter system’, with clear guidance on plan-making, a strong focus on the plan-led system, and a commitment to meeting the nation’s housing need. And yet after six years, and an updated NPPF published, just half of all authorities benefit from a post-NPPF 2012 strategic plan.
Indeed, as at 31 December 2018 almost a quarter of authorities we studied have plans under examination, and 22% of authorities have still yet to submit a post-NPPF 2012 Local Plan, the majority of which are areas constrained by Green Belt. Three quarters of plans submitted in 2016/17 took less than the 18 month average since 2012, suggesting a quickening in examination periods; however housing needs and the duty-to-cooperate remain stubborn issues. To meet its manifesto ambition of building 300,000 homes annually by the mid 2020s, the Government is committed to increasing the supply of housing through a plan-led system.
Following a reform process that began in 2015, the revised National Planning Policy Framework 2018 (NPPF 2018) and its accompanying documents aim to support this, by expediting and strengthening plan-making. We’ve reviewed seven of the key policy changes, considering which ones are likely to improve the pace and quality of plan-making, and which ones may complicate and delay the process. Long standing areas of debate at examination, such as housing need and duty to cooperate, are set to be narrowed, with simpler methodologies and guidance. But the debate is likely to shift to testing the viability of site allocations and affordable housing policies at the plan-making stage, together with increased pressure on authorities to ensure 10% of allocations are on small sites…
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