Following the publication of the draft proposal of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF), the National Federation of Builders (NFB) says the Government is ‘missing a golden opportunity’ to tackle the housing crisis by rolling back on several of its more radical approaches.
The inclusion of social rent and starter homes in the definition of affordable housing has been welcomed, along with the standard methodology for assessing housing need.
Key elements of the revised NPPF include:
- redefining the small sites policy into a small and medium-sized sites policy;
- doubling the size of small and medium sites to one hectare;
- allocating 10% of a local plan exclusively to small and medium sites – down from the initial proposal of 20%;
- retaining protections for the green belt from development;
- updating viability assessments, which require local authorities to use more up-to-date cost statistics and comparable case studies.
Small and medium-sized sites are normally delivered by non-volume developers such as SMEs, housing associations and community land trusts. The NFB says the Government has missed an opportunity to fix the broken housing market – as set out in the Housing White Paper – by not defining them separately and giving them increased emphasis.
These changes will encourage rural communities to grow, as will changes to rural exception sites which now accept some market housing and embolden opportunities to build adjacent to existing settlements.
Richard Beresford, chief executive of the NFB, said: “The Government has proven to be much less ambitious than it had originally aspired to. Cutting the small sites requirement to 10% is a clear sign that the revised NPPF is not radical thinking but ponderous progress.
“Despite some positives, 99% of the construction industry has been overlooked. The Government has missed a golden opportunity to put this country on the road to addressing its housing crisis and solving the broken housing market.”