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NPPF 2.0 is already having an impact on housing delivery

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The revised NPPF forces local planning authorities to focus on housing delivery rather than just allocations, says Katie Inglis 

For most in the industry, the 24th July 2018 is synonymous with the publication of the new National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF). For me, it marked the first day of a Public Inquiry, the culmination of a two-year planning process for a site in Chiltern District. There has been a lot of talk about the lack of changes to the NPPF but the new definition of “deliverable” very much helped our five-year land supply case and the appeal was one of the first appeal decisions allowed under the new NPPF.

The case involved the development of 34 dwellings on a brownfield site, within a settlement boundary, right next to a train station. The site was also within a conservation area and a settlement within the Chilterns area of outstanding natural beauty. 

Our planning case was predicated on the suitability and sustainability of the site, but was reinforced by the district’s previous acknowledgement that they didn’t have a five-year housing land supply. Once the Inquiry began, the district was suddenly able to demonstrate that it did indeed have a five-year housing land supply. This centred around a recently signed Memorandum of Understanding with the Vale of Aylesbury. The neighbouring district had agreed to take 5,725 of Chiltern’s homes and the Council were arguing that 3,000 of these homes would be delivered in the next five years.

"Gone are the days where an LPA can hide behind their site allocations, large strategic sites and memorandums of understanding without giving clear evidence to demonstrate that housing completions will begin on site within five years"

As outlined in the High Court decision in St Modwen v SSCLG and East Riding, under footnote 11 of the previous NPPF, this would have been acceptable, as there was no requirement to demonstrate that housing delivery was certain or even probable (see Paragraph 38 of the Judgement).

But the new NPPF’s definition of deliverable requires clear evidence of delivery within the five-year period for outline permissions, permissions in principle, allocated sites or sites on a brownfield register.  
We argued that the local planning authority did not have a five-year land supply as there was no evidence to suggest that the 3,000 homes were deliverable in accordance with the new definition.
Furthermore, we argued that very little weight should be given to the draft Vale of Aylesbury local plan given the significant unresolved objections to this plan, in accordance with guidance now outlined in Paragraph 49 of the new NPPF. In the absence of any evidence to suggest these 3,000 homes allocated to Vale of Aylesbury would come forward, the Inspector agreed with our assessment and the appeal was allowed. 

Gone are the days where a local planning authority can hide behind their site allocations, large strategic sites and memorandums of understanding without giving clear evidence to demonstrate that housing completions will begin on site within five years. It means a lot more work will be required by local planning authorities to demonstrate delivery to meet the tests of the definition. This is a seemingly small but very welcome change and it is clearly a legitimate consideration for planning appeals. 

Katie Inglis is an associate, strategic planning, with Iceni Projects

The inspector’s report - case reference 3202026 - can be read here

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