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LGA warns against NPPF changes to housing targets

Words: Laura Edgar
Homes / iStock_000020788340

The Local Government Association (LGA) has called on the government not to implement planned changes to the National Planning Policy Framework that will ‘impose often undeliverable’ housing targets on councils.

In its response to the government consultation on the NPPF, the council representative said that if from 2020, private housebuilders have not built more than 75 per cent of the government’s targets, calculated through the standardised methodology, just under 165,000 homes in 42 per cent of council areas - could be built by bypassing local plans by the end of the decade.

The consultation asks whether responders agree with the “application of the presumption in favour of sustainable development where delivery is below 75 per cent of the housing required from 2020?”

The LGA response states: “The application of the presumption in favour of sustainable development when delivery of housing falls to 75 per cent of the target rate is not a proportionate response to a situation that is out of the immediate control of a local planning authority.”

For the LGA, the presumption in favour rule bypasses the wishes expressed by communities in developing local plans. It means housebuilders will be able to “avoid” key factors sectors out in local plans, such as ensuring new homes have appropriate infrastructure and are built to high standards.

A “renaissance” in housebuilding by councils is required, the LGA said, and can be achieved by enabling them to borrow to build.

Martin Tett, housing spokesperson for the LGA, said: “The planning system is not a barrier to housebuilding – the opposite is true. Councils are approving nine in 10 applications and last year worked with developers to approve 350,000 new homes, the highest in more than a decade.

“It is completely unfair to impose targets on communities which can only be met by private developers, and then to penalise those local communities if those builders do not deliver.

“This risks leading to a housebuilding free-for-all which will bypass the needs of local communities and could damage trust in the planning system. The government needs to scrap these plans to avoid this alarming scenario playing out across the country.

“Councils are committed to ensuring homes are built where they are needed. It is vital that they have an oversight of local developments and are given the powers needed to play a leading role in solving our national housing shortage.”

The LGA’s NPPF consultation response can be found on the LGA website (pdf).

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