Tag Archives: nppf

Housing breakfast briefing

Crunch time as over 100 councils fail Housing Delivery Test

By Daniel Fryd, Senior Consultant

The results of the first MHCLG Housing Delivery Test – long touted as the mechanism that would hold councils to account for their failure to build new homes – were finally revealed in February.

Over 100 councils will have to take action following the results of the test, with 87 having to identify 20% more land in their local plans to build new homes on. This is clearly not an insignificant uplift, so the impact on authorities including Harlow, Mole Valley, East Hertfordshire, Guildford, Basildon and Ipswich is expected to be marked.

The remaining councils will have to put together an action plan setting out how they will ramp up delivery and meet their housing need in the future.

What is the test?

The housing delivery test is MHCLG’s method for checking whether local authorities are providing the right number homes for their area. The test results set out the percentage of new homes delivered, against the number required over the past three years.

Under the guidelines which were first shared in the revised NPPF, authorities providing under 95% need to produce an action plan, those under 85% have to add the 20% buffer, and those under 25% face the NPPF’s presumption in favour of sustainable development.

No authorities face the harshest punishment yet, but that is all set to change in November when the minimum bar is raised for councils up to 45%.

Feeling the squeeze

Seven councils are currently on course to fall below the 45% threshold which comes into force in November, unless they record a significant increase in new homes this year.

This includes Redbridge (38%), Barking & Dagenham (43%) and Thanet Council (44%), which are all among the worst performing authorities with woefully low delivery percentages.

If they do not seriously look at sensibly delivering many more homes in their area over the next year, they face opening themselves up to speculative development through the presumption in favour of development.

These measures, alongside tough MHCLG talk on intervening in the lack of local plan making, is all part of a wider government drive to increase housing numbers.

There has been much talk about whether MHCLG would choose to intervene in the local plans of councils falling way below the housing levels expected of them. Councils at Wirral and Thanet have been given directions by MHCLG to complete their plans within a specified period, and Castle Point is expected to have directions to ignore its last council and vote on the local plan and to proceed with it as it has been drafted.

What next?

Many local authorities already have a 20% buffer on land supply in the local plans they have submitted: they need to ensure delivery. Those councils which have submitted local plans with housing figures below housing need can expect modifications to increase that supply and an early review.

Considering the revised NPPF came out last year, councils who have to step up delivery and have plans close to submission have had plenty of time to ensure that their emerging plans provide a sufficient supply.

There will be an array of Examinations in Public coming in the next few months for the many emerging local plans across the country. Inspectors now have every right to put their foot down and ask for an increase in delivery in under-performing authorities.

Maybe, just maybe, we’ll start to see more new homes coming forward.

Is placemaking back on the agenda?

By Michael Hardware, Director of Planning and Property, Chelgate Local

Michael is also an Essex County and Harlow District councillor, vice-chairman of the county Development and Regulation Committee and sits on the district Development Management Committee.

Quality design in all its facets and ‘place’ are key streams in the new revised NPPF, including a new chapter 12: “Achieving well-designed places”.  This introduces a different focus for officers and members when considering planning applications, something that they may not yet be prepared for.

The industry does recognise the importance of placemaking and some strive to develop real communities with quality design when planning new developments, to create places where people really want to work and live. It is not unusual for them to then be frustrated when the project comes before committee because their efforts are not recognised by members, or they are simply not understood.

I cannot recall any debates in committee when considering an application about the sense of ‘place’ other than usual negative comments that the proposals look awful and the architecture is wanting. Officers then brief members that design and architecture are subjective and they need to look more at form and context, and the use of space.

It is ultimately members’ responsibility to decide whether the officer’s recommendation is correct and to determine the application. By inference, the revised NPPF must place a further responsibility on officers to ensure members do understand the revised NPPF, can recognise good design and good placemaking.  This may mean members will need more training, but I don’t think many will object to that.

It is a shame that the reference to ‘Garden Cities’ has been removed from the NPPF. This was a concept that councillors did comprehend and perhaps using those principles of quality design across all applications would have been a step forward.

Members do debate elements of a project which could be deemed to relate to placemaking, but councillors do need to have a greater understanding of placemaking as a whole. As such, the revised NPPF adds some new considerations, in addition to the existing:

  • Density, and the effective use of land
  • Town centre vitality
  • Sustainable transport
  • Healthy and safe communities
  • Community engagement

Also inherent in the revised NPPF is community consultation. It encourages applicants to engage with local communities in the pre-application process, where they do not already. It is key that both the ward members and the community are engaged early in the process so applicants can identify local issues and aspirations and tailor their projects accordingly.

The revised NPPF is a step in the right direction in terms of placemaking but it needs to be a joined-up approach. Officers and members need the training and experience to execute the vision the government has for the communities of tomorrow.

planning news

Planning Ahead – Planning news, views and insight – November 2018

This month: Letwin on land banking, Malthouse ignores ONS stats, upwards extensions, HRA borrowing cap and TCPA’s tips on affordable housing

  • Malthouse calls for “more, better, faster” as Gov ignore latest population stats
    Government will not change  housing targets despite official statistics predicting lower household growth than previously thought, it was confirmed… Read more
  • Onwards and upwards for extensions?
    The government has launched a fresh consultation on permitted development rights (PDR) for upwards extensions… Read more
  • TCPA proposes 13 steps to deliver truly affordable housing
    The planning system is failing to deliver affordable homes in the country’s poorest areas, a new report claims… Read more
  • Government lifts HRA borrowing cap
    In one of the biggest announcements from this year’s Conservative Party conference, Theresa May presented government’s plans to remove… Read more
  • Letwin Lets Rip in Build Out Review
    Oliver Letwin MP’s new report confirms house builders do not land bank, and sets out a number of measures to speed up housebuilding… Read more
  • Budget 2018 Special
    Hammond’s highly-anticipated pre-Brexit budget was slightly underwhelming from a housing and planning perspective. However, he did admit… Read more

Local Plan updates
Chelgate Local brings you Local Plan updates for Aylesbury Vale, Basildon, Brentwood, Central Beds, Chelmsford, Chiltern and South Bucks, Dacorum, East Herts, Epping, Epsom and Ewell, Harlow, Medway, Milton Keynes, Mole Valley and many more…

Chelgate Local invites you to our Breakfast Briefing on the Role of County Councils
We welcome you to attend our breakfast briefing on the shifting role of county councils in planning, with a focus on Hertfordshire.

We will hear from local politicians, housing associations and developers on how county councils are playing a far greater role in the planning of infrastructure and larger developments.

Come along on 7th December, 8-10am in St Albans. Email vshirley@chelgate.com to reserve your spot, places are limited!

Voluntary Right to Buy - Daniel Fryd

Is Right to Buy heading in the wrong direction?

By Daniel Fryd, Senior Consultant

Just when it looked like ‘Voluntary Right to Buy’ was firmly buried in the long grass, Communities Secretary James Brokenshire dug it out earlier this month and announced £200m to revive it as a new pilot scheme.

The new scheme allows housing association tenants in the Midlands to register online to buy their home at a discount, with places allocated through a ballot closing on September 16.

While the news will certainly be welcome to a select few Housing Association tenants in the Midlands, its use in actually helping solve the housing crisis is much more uncertain.

The ‘dream of home ownership’

Right to Buy has long been touted by the Conservatives as a way to increase social mobility and provide social housing tenants with a route into ownership. Since 2010, the policy has allowed almost 94,000 households to buy up the council homes they have lived in at a discounted rate.

Voluntary right to buy (VRTB) for housing association properties was then put forward as a Conservative manifesto commitment in 2015. Since then, every Housing Minister has remained conveniently quiet on the policy, making no commitments while it largely faded from public consciousness.

It comes as a surprise then that the VRTB scheme, which can only assist the decline in social housing stock, has suddenly reappeared now: in the same week as a Social Housing Green Paper which allocated no new money for social housing and set no target for future housing numbers.

Over 66,000 council homes have been sold through RTB since 2012 with only 17,000 replacements, so new homes are desperately needed – not a further sell-off.

Government has stated money from homes sold under the pilot will be given to councils to fund one-for-one replacements, but councils are likely to be dubious given they have barely been able to replace 25% of the stock that has been sold off. Early reports from Inside Housing suggest around 3,000 homes will be sold across the Midlands under the Pilot, so there will be plenty of replacements needed.

Hope for council homes

It is not all bad news however. MHCLG released a wider consultation alongside the Social Housing Green Paper on allowing councils to set all RTB discounts locally and keep 100% of receipts from homes sold. This would allow councils across the country to reduce the discount and could help them lower demand if they need to retain some of their stock.

Following publication of the new NPPF, the Housing Revenue Account borrowing cap is also being raised “in areas of high affordability pressures” by up to £1bn over the three years from April 2019. This could give London councils under severe housing pressure like London Borough of Waltham Forest more capacity to replace homes sold under RTB.

The government has also abandoned the “high-value asset levy” policy, meaning councils will no longer have to worry about selling off their most valuable homes in the future, with little prospect of replacing them.

Moving ahead

145,000 new affordable homes are needed every year by 2031, according to the National Housing Federation, so each of these new policies are a positive step towards achieving this. Schemes like VRTB, meanwhile, will not help achieve this. It might even hinder it.

Which is why the government’s decision to press ahead with the VRTB pilot at this time seems bizarre. The Social Housing Green Paper’s new ‘1% ownership’ scheme for council tenants would have been the perfect replacement policy for Government to offer tenants as an opportunity to own their home.

Brokenshire is pressing ahead, however, and the pilot scheme will run until spring 2020 when MHCLG will decide whether to roll the scheme out to the rest of the country.

If the Midlands councils involved really can find a way to replace every single home they sell by 2020, then perhaps the scheme will prove itself successful. If not, the Government should muster the courage to chalk the policy up as a failure and get on with the job of building more homes, not selling them off.

New NPPF ends Government summer policy drought

by Daniel Fryd, Senior Consultant, Chelgate Local.
This article was also published on Pub Affairs.

In a day for burying Government announcements, Communities Secretary James Brokenshire revealed the new ‘National Planning Policy Framework’ (NPPF) on 24th July, providing good news for build-to-rent developers and bad news for councils dragging their feet. Read Chelgate’s analysis of the key announcements below:

On a swelteringly hot final day before summer Parliamentary recess, housing and planning professionals across the country sat with ‘bated’ breath and awaited the various MHCLG announcements they had been promised.

The Social Housing Green Paper, the revised National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF), and the Rough Sleeping Strategy were all pledged for publication ahead of the summer recess at various points over the last few months. While we will have to wait until September for the other two, Communities Secretary James Brokenshire finally published the long-awaited NPPF2  on the day before recess, before promptly sprinting out of the MHCLG door on his summer holidays.

But while NPPF2 could be seen as a rather underwhelming compilation of minor changes which have been seen before, it does introduce important new policy on areas including the housing delivery test, small sites, housing design, and build to rent:

Build to Rent

For the very first time, Build to Rent (BtR) has been officially recognised by the government as its own specific asset class. Furthering the Government’s drive towards a greater tenure mix, local authorities will need to reflect the demand for purpose-built rented homes alongside social rent and private ownership in their policies and local plans.

Significantly, changes in NPPF2 now allow Build to Rent developments to count towards the total affordable housing allocation for an area, meaning BtR sites can provide new affordable private rent homes for an area, and ease the pressure on registered housing associations to build homes.

The change should allow councils to plan more effectively for provision of affordable housing, and allows them to draw on the typically more high-quality rental homes that BtR provide to meet their housing obligations.

This will be come as some small consolation for councils left with an increasing deficit in their housing stock thanks to Right to Buy, as purpose built BtR developments can be used to provide “affordable private rent” while councils concentrate on replenishing their stock.

Housing Delivery test

One of the key new policies to enforce the Housing Need methodology, and ensure performance against local plans, is the Housing Delivery Test. From November 2018 councils will be assessed against the numbers of homes that are built in their area, rather than how many homes they planned for but have not yet delivered. To ensure councils can no longer agree local plans which set
wildly unachievable housing figures, the test penalises councils under-delivering over a three-year period.

While the policy will help MHCLG crack down on non-compliant councils failing to meet their land supply targets, councils have seen it as allowing developers to run riot. An outraged Lord Porter, Chairman of the LGA, pointed out that the test “punishes communities for homes not built by private developers”, and that national targets could see agreed local plans bypassed. If developers build less than 75% of the council’s target OAN target for new homes over three years, they will now benefit from a “presumption in favour of sustainable development.

Councils have long argued the slow build-out rate of developers has held back their delivery while they approve “nine out of 10 applications”. Developers have repeatedly contested this assertion, and while MHCLG has not committed itself either way, the findings of the Letwin Review at Autumn Budget should finally force the Government to take a policy stance on the issue.

January 2019 local plan deadline

Councils have been told for the first time they have until 24 January 2019 to submit their local plans if they want to be examined against the previous NPPF, using the old housing need figures.

Plans submitted after 24 January – exactly six months from NPPF2’s publication – will be examined under the new rules and will be held to the new housing need assessment.

Good design

Showing he practices what he preaches, the Communities Secretary has also made guidance around good design significantly more robust, in a move which could help bring an end to the days of faceless cheap developments. Recognising its importance for creating places which people want to live in and enjoy, NPPF2 places the creation of high quality buildings as ‘fundamental’ to the planning process.

Warning about how the “quality of approved development [can] materially diminish between permission and completion”, the new guidance sets out how local authorities should work with developers to ensure changes are not made to areas like materials on permitted schemes. While the viability and cost of materials is a perennial issue post-approval, the new guidance could see councils cracking down on changes.

Adopted neighbourhood plans should “demonstrate clear local leadership in design quality, with the framework allowing groups seeking such plans to truly reflect the community’s expectations on how new development will visually contribute to their area”.

Small sites

While the draft NPPF, and Oliver Letwin’s initial findings, have promoted small sites as one of the answer to England’s housing woes, the new NPPF moves away from this. Previously the document stated that “small sites can make an important contribution to meeting the housing requirement of an area, and are often built out relatively quickly”.

Under the revisions to the plan, councils must accommodate 10 per cent of their housing requirement on small sites, as opposed to 20 per cent of sites which they would have had to deliver under the draft version. While the development of small sites is clearly still part of the solution for MHCLG, this move, and the reinstatement of the previously dropped Garden City principles, could signal a move back to larger strategic sites to deliver new homes.

To find out more, and to see how we can help you, get in touch at mhardware@chelgate.com or 020 7939 7989.

Kit Malthouse becomes eighth Housing Minister in eight years

In a day of turmoil for the Government, Kit Malthouse, the little known former Department of Work and Pensions Minister, has been appointed as the new Housing Minister.

Elected as MP for North West Hampshire in 2015 Malthouse has maintained a low but fairly well-respected profile, serving as a Parliamentary Under-Secretary at the DWP, Deputy London Mayor for Business and Enterprise, and Deputy Leader of Westminster Council.

With a range of experience under his belt, Malthouse’s arrival will be met with muted enthusiasm from across the board as a sensible appointment given the circumstances and the need for stability.

But as a supporter of localism and a strong plan-led system to increase housing supply it is just possible Malthouse could emerge as the Housing Minister to provide the planning reforms we need.

Malthouse on Housing
Malthouse has previously spoken out in the House of Commons in support of a plan-led system and strongly supported the introduction of Neighbourhood Plans to maintain local input during the strong growth in housing.

He also welcomed the standardisation of the calculation of housing supply for local authorities, which will be vital to drive through the new NPPF in the coming months.

Interestingly he has criticised the role of the Planning Inspectorate for its involvement in planning in the past, saying that it is often used as an excuse to slow things down as a “complicated game of chicken is played between developer, local authority and local community”.

Elsewhere he has written for the Times, arguing that local authorities should let flats to rough sleepers for free as a basis for providing support to the homeless.

Shaky Foundations
Theresa May’s promise that housing is “at the top of the Government’s agenda” rings somewhat hollow now, given she in on her fourth Housing Minister since her appointment as Prime Minister two years ago.

Malthouse replaces Dominic Raab, the ardent Vote Leave campaigner and former lawyer who has been confirmed as the man to lead Theresa May’s Cabinet as the new Brexit Secretary.

Raab managed a grand total of six months as Housing Minister following his appointment to Theresa May’s cabinet reshuffle in January, replacing Alok Sharma who spent just seven months in the role. His credibility took something of a hit this year over accusations of ‘dog whistle’ politics as he used discredited statistics to link the housing crisis to immigration.

In a year that has also seen MHCLG lose Sajid Javid as Communities Secretary and Marcus Jones as Local Government Minister, Malthouse will be tasked with bringing stability to a Housing agenda undermined by constant change.

A Tall Order
Malthouse will immediately take over the mantle of delivering a housing agenda to build on million new homes by 2020. And he will have his work cut out for him.

July will be an incredibly busy month with both the Social Housing Green Paper and revised NPPF due for publication. Alongside this, work will continue on reforms to the rental sector while allocation of funds such as the £3billion Home Building Fund will need to be addressed.

MHCLG have committed to delivering the revised NPPF, which has already been delayed and tinkered with over the last year, this month. Given Raab’s departure today and the need to bring Malthouse up to speed with complex regulations, it is looking increasingly unlikely they will be able to deliver to this timescale before Parliament breaks for Summer Recess next Friday 20th July.

If he gets up to speed quickly and heals the hurt left by yet another departing Housing Minister, Malthouse has every opportunity to stamp his mark on the portfolio at a time when bold and stable leadership is desperately needed.

Chelgate Local
Chelgate Local has been providing strategic communications advice to residential and commercial developers for 30 years. We are working on 30 projects across London, Home Counties, East Anglia and the East Midlands which could provide 92,000 new homes.

To discuss how we could help your business navigate the planning system get in touch with Mike Hardware on 020 7939 7949 or mhardware@chelgate.com.

Theresa tasks Brokenshire to fix Broken Housing Market


Former Northern Ireland Secretary James Brokenshire MP has today been confirmed as the new Communities Secretary.

The Old Bexley and Sidcup MP replaces Sajid David, who has moved to replace Amber Rudd as Home Secretary.

Brokenshire resigned from his role as Northern Ireland Secretary earlier this year, ahead of an operation to remove a tumour on his lung.

He returns to Government tasked with delivering on Theresa May’s pledge in March 2018 to “tackle one of the biggest barriers to social mobility we face today: the national housing crisis.”

In a year that has already seen MHCLG lose Alok Sharma MP as Housing Minister and Marcus Jones as Local Government Minister, he will be tasked with bringing stability to a department which has seen all too much change.

He will face a significant inbox including the revised National Planning Policy Framework which is being consulted on until 10th May, the Social Housing Green Paper, the Grenfell inquiry and the Letwin Review.

Brokenshire was born in 1968 in Southend-On-Sea and went to school Loughton, Essex before attending graduating in Law from Exeter University.

When the Conservatives won the 2010 general election, Brokenshire was appointed Parliamentary Under Secretary for Crime Reduction, although in May 2011 was transferred to Parliamentary Under Secretary for Crime and Security, before being appointed Minister for Security and Immigration in February 2014.

Brokenshire actively campaigned for the U.K. to remain inside the European Union, and on housing issues consistently voted for phasing out secure tenancies for life and for charging a market rent to high earners renting council homes.

In a tweet this morning, Brokenshire said: “Honoured to have been asked by the Prime Minister to serve as Secretary of State at the Ministry of Housing Communities & Local Government. Looking forward to taking the Government’s agenda forward especially on building the homes our country needs.”

Chelgate Local has been providing strategic communications advice to residential and commercial developers for 30 years. It’s working on 30 projects across London, Home Counties, East Anglia and the East Midlands which could provide 92,000 new homes.

To discuss how we could help your business navigate the planning system then get in touch with David Mills at dmills@chelgate.com or 020 7939 7949.