Secretary of State Rt Hon James Brokenshire MP has published new planning rules this week. They state the necessity of building attractive and better-designed homes in areas where they are needed.
The revised National Planning Policy Framework aims to make it easier for councils to take a stand against poor quality and unattractive developments, as well as providing communities the ability to voice their own opinions about how developments should look and feel.
The Prime Minister launched a public consultation earlier this year, which provided a comprehensive approach for planners, developers and councils to increase the amount of homes being built and at a faster speed. It also focused on looking at where people actually want to live.
This revised framework will focus on:
- promotion of higher quality designs for new homes and places
- stronger protection for the environment
- making sure that the right number of homes are being built in the right places
- councils and developers receiving greater responsibility and accountability for housing delivery
Secretary of State for Communities, Rt Hon James Brokenshire MP said: “Fundamental to building the homes our country needs is ensuring that our planning system is fit for the future.
“This revised planning framework sets out our vision of a planning system that delivers the homes we need. I am clear that quantity must never compromise the quality of what is built, and this is reflected in the new rules.
“We have listened to the tens of thousands of people who told us their views, making this a shared strategy for development in England.”
We have had a regular reminder that the Government is continuing with its target to achieve 300,000 new homes a year. There were 217,000 homes built last year, which was the biggest increase in housing supply in almost ten years.
Promoting high quality design of new homes and places
The framework aims to ensure that councils have the confidence and tools to deny permission for development if it does not prioritise design quality and fails to complement the surroundings.
Whilst there is a concentration on driving up the quality of new builds, councils will also remain in charge of applying such policies in the most relevant way in relation to the area.
In order to maximise the usage of land, the Government aims to provide the councils with more confidence to make refusals to applications that don’t provide enough homes.
Stronger protection for the environment
There have been updates made to the new framework, which provide further protection for biodiversity. The importance of ensuring that wildlife thrives, whilst also addressing the need for new homes has been pinpointed.
The planning system is due to align more closely with Defra’s 25 Year Environment Plan. This aims to improve the environment so that we are leaving it in a more prosperous state for future generations. There should be more protection for habitats, and the issue of air quality needs greater focus when development proposals are being considered.
The revised framework plans to ensure that all other reasonable options for development are exhausted before looking to alter a Green Belt boundary. The protection of ancient woodland and trees throughout England should be strengthened, in order for it to continue to thrive for further generations.
The Government has specified its intention to protect the Green Belt in England, explaining the high expectations and considerable evidence that would be required in order for any alterations to be authorised.
Building the right number of homes in the right places
There will be a new way for councils to calculate the housing needs of their local community, in order to tackle the issue of unaffordable house prices throughout the country. This will include the consideration of different forms of housing, such as retirement homes.
Overall, there is an aim to build more homes in the areas that are most in need, based on the affordability of existing homes for those on a lower or medium income.
Councils are introducing a Housing Delivery Test from November 2018. It will focus on increasing the amount of homes that are actually built in an area, rather than simply the amount planned to be delivered.
Clearer guidance for both developers and councils has also been published, in order to make sure that the necessary infrastructure and affordable housing is delivered to support communities. Developers will now know what is expected from them up front, even before the submission of planning applications. Councils will have greater control over holding them to these commitments.
During the consultation, the Government held ten regional engagement events and approximately 40 individual meetings. This consultation received 29,224 responses, including over 25,000 to the campaign itself.