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New and updated PPG: A breakdown

Words: Laura Edgar
Planning research / iStock-621728016

Last week the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) published new and updated Planning Practice Guidance (PPG). This reflects the revised National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF), which was published in July. Here, The Planner has highlighted some key changes, many of which were set out in the revised PPG in March.

New guidance



  • Local authorities are not “obliged” to accept needs from neighbouring areas if they can demonstrate doing so “would have an adverse impact when assesses against policies in the NPPF”. Inspectors, though, will expect to see that local authorities have addressed key strategic matters through “effective joint working” and not deferred them to subsequent plan updates.
  • Local authorities should produce and update statement(s) of common ground throughout the plan-making process. The PPG states that it should include a number of points, including: the location and why; the key strategic matters being addressed by the statement; governance arrangements for the cooperation process; and a record of where agreements have (or have not) been reached on key strategic matters.
  • On evidence gathering, the PPG encourages “authorities to use social media tools and other platforms to communicate with communities, where appropriate”.
  • Includes a section on how it can be demonstrated that large-scale developments can be developed within a set timescale.


Build to rent

  • Local authorities should use a local housing need assessment to work out whether there is a need for build to rent homes in their area. If a need is identified, local authorities should include in their local plan a policy that sets out an approach to promoting and accommodating build to rent.
  • The PPG states that 20 per cent is “generally a suitable benchmark” for the level of affordable private rent homes to be provided, and maintained in perpetuity, in any build to rent scheme. Additionally, national affordable housing policy requires a minimum rent discount of 20 per cent for affordable private rent homes relative to local market rents.
  • Consideration should be given to a “covenant period” for the retention of private market rent homes in that tenure. Also, potential compensation mechanisms should be considered in case private market rent homes are sold before the expiration of an agreed covenant period.



Neighbourhood Plans

  • In order for neighbourhood plan areas to benefit from the limited protection of paragraph 14 of the revised NPPF – from the presumption in favour of sustainable development – neighbourhood plans must include housing policies and allocations.
  • Policies and allocations must meet the identified housing requirement “in full”, whether that is derived from “the standard methodology for local housing need, the housing figure in the area’s strategic policies, an indicative figure provided by the local authority, or where it has exceptionally been determined by the neighbourhood planning body”.
  • Where a neighbourhood plan-making body wants to allocate sites for development an appraisal of options and assessment of individual sites against clearly identified criteria will need to be carried out. Allocated sites should be shown on the policies map with a clear site boundary drawn on an Ordnance Survey base map.


Housing and economic land availability assessment

  • This section introduces the housing delivery test, the rule book for which can be found here.
  • The housing secretary will publish the Housing Delivery Test results annually in November. The test does not apply to “National Park Authorities, the Broads Authority and development corporations without (or not exercising) both plan-making and decision-making functions”.
  • Areas that already have or are producing a joint plan can monitor their five-year land supply and have the Housing Delivery Test applied over the whole joint planning area or on a single authority.
  • If housing delivery falls below the housing requirement, certain policies in the NPPF will apply:

- 95 per cent of the Housing Delivery Test results, an action plan will be required.

- A 20 per cent buffer on a local planning authority’s five-year supply if housing delivery falls below 85 per cent.

- The presumption in favour of sustainable development if housing delivery falls below 75 per cent, once transitional arrangements have ended.

This will apply until the subsequent Housing Delivery Test results are published, or a new housing requirement is adopted.

  • Action plans will be produced by the local planning authority, and identify the reasons for under-delivery and for improvement.
  • Local authorities are still required to review their five-year housing supply annually.


Housing need assessment 

  • The standard method (consulted on last year) should be used to assess housing need, while “any other method will be used only in exceptional circumstances.
  • If a local authority uses an alternative approach that results in a lower housing need than the one calculated using the standard method, it “should in principle be considered to be unsound”. If an alternative approach identifies a higher need than the standard method it should be “considered sound as it will have exceeded the minimum starting point”.
  • Local housing need calculated using the standard method can be relied upon for two years from the time that a plan is submitted to the Planning Inspectorate for examination.

The PPG in full can be found here on the MHCLHG website.

Read more:

News report: Will the revised NPPF deliver?

Government publishes revised NPPF

RTPI says new NPPF will put planners under 'significant pressure'

RTPI: Opportunity to align NPPF with UN’s SDGs missed

Action plans required if housing delivery falls below requirement, draft PPG outlines

Appeal: 25 homes approved despite neighbourhood plan conflict

Appeal: Accessibility and countryside loss outweighed by benefits of Notts housing proposal

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