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Updated National Planning Policy December 2023- All Change or Business as Usual?

Just as you thought you were safe for the holidays, the Rt Hon Michael Gove MP announced a new NPPF to fill your Christmas stocking.

Time will tell whether this is a revolution or just a gentle trim of the rudder, but there is no doubt that it puts planning back front and centre in the battle to deliver more of the homes we so desperately need. Indeed Mr Gove describes planning as a noble profession which has been sadly under invested in and in an attempt to remedy this, the Government have announced new measures to tackle the lack of planning resource, including of course the recent fee increases.

The very clear focus of the changes to the NPPF has been to offer both carrot and stick in the preparation of local plans. Those with up to date plans which demonstrate a 5 year housing land supply are exempted from the need to prove this for 5 years after adoption, whilst those with persistent record of failure have been named and shamed, and those in the middle, with a plan at Reg 18 or 19 stage given some leeway to get to adoption.

Paragraph 1 still sets the commitment to sustainable development and meeting housing needs, but the calculation of housing need under the standard methodology is now only an ‘advisory’ starting point and assessments need then to take account of local factors.

Gentle densification in our towns and cities is key, with too many falling below the densities of our European counterparts.

While Green Belt does not have to be reviewed in local plan preparation in a bid to meet housing need, it is not clear what the consequences will be for a failure to meet those needs. This will be a particular issue in those local authority areas where housing delivery is continually low, but where Green Belt dominates across the authority area. This will be argued at many forthcoming examinations where the question of what counts as exceptional circumstances will be at the forefront.

See the link to the updated NPPF here: https://draftable.com/compare/xVBafWjbMUmb