Consultation on changes to planning policy and regulations
1. Since 2010 the Government has introduced planning reforms to improve the current system. In 2010 only 17% of local authorities had local plans in place and now 91% of local authorities have plans. Over 2,700 groups have started the neighbourhood planning process since 2012.
Over 1.5 million new homes have been delivered since 2010, including over 241,000 last year alone–that’s the highest level for over 30 years. And planning permissions for new homes have more than doubled since 2010. But this isn’t enough – they want to deliver the housing people need because happier, more rooted communities bring our country together.
2. Planning for the Future sets out plans to undertake a fundamental reform of the planning system and explains that this would be accompanied by shorter-term measures. This consultation sets out proposals for measures to improve the effectiveness of the current system. The four main proposals are:
•changes to the standard method for assessing local housing need, which as well as being a proposal to change guidance in the short term has relevance to proposals for land supply reforms set out in Planning for the Future;
•securing of First Homes, sold at a discount to market price for first time buyers, including key workers, through developer contributions in the short term until the transition to a new system;
•temporarily lifting the small sites threshold below which developers do not need to contribute to affordable housing, to up to 40 or 50 units to support SME builders as the economy recovers from the impact of Covid-19;
•extending the current Permission in Principle to major development so landowners and developers now have a fast route to secure the principle of development for housing on sites without having to work up detailed plans first.
See Planning for the Future:
The standard method for assessing housing numbers in strategic plans
3. This consultation is seeking views on changes to planning practice guidance on the standard method for assessing local housing need (“the standard method”). The standard method provides the starting point for planning for housing and does not establish the housing requirement.
4. The standard method was first implemented in 2018 through the revised National Planning Policy Framework2to make assessing the minimum number of homes needed in an area easier, cheaper and more transparent. In February 2019, following the technical consultation on updates to national planning policy and guidance, a short-term change was made to the standard method. At the same time, a commitment was made to review the formula to balance the need for clarity, simplicity and transparency for local communities with the Government’s aspirations for the housing market.
5. This part of the consultation is about the standard method for assessing local housing need. There are wider policy proposals for introducing a standard method for setting binding housing requirements, set out in the separate consultation Planning for the Future. It is the Government’s intention that the method set out in this document would form part of the process for setting any binding housing requirement. However, this consultation does not set out how this binding requirement would be calculated, which will be determined following the Planning for the Future consultation. Instead, it proposes a revised standard method for calculating local housing need which will be used as the basis for plans created prior to any changes outlined in Planning for the Future being introduced.
6.This consultation should be read in the context of the wider government reforms Planning for the Future in relation to the planning system and in particular the reforms to ensure sufficient land is released for homes. As this sets out, the Government’s aspirations is to create a housing market that is capable of delivering 300,000 homes annually and one million homes over this Parliament. Adopted local plans, where they are in place, provide for 187,000 homes per year across England –not just significantly below their ambition for 300,000 new homes annually, but also lower than the number of homes delivered last year 241,000).
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