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National Planning Policy Guidance Published

Category: News 31 March 2014

National Planning Policy Guidance is published

Important changes to housing market assessments

The Coalition has now formally scrapped guidance on how to prepare a Strategic Housing Market Assessment (last updated in 2007). This has been replaced with the National Planning Policy Guidance (NPPG) online guidance, which will be updated as needed.

The objective of simplifying the planning system has resulted in considerably slimmed-down guidance with the emphasis on email alerts about changes and revisions.

"...We used to have to refer to separate documents. Everything is now in one place, but the onus is on making sure you’re up-to-date with the latest revisions."

The NPPG confirms there is no definitive methodology for assessing housing needs, but stresses that local planning authorities should avoid primary surveys. Instead, they should predominantly rely on existing secondary data sources. Furthermore, to reflect the importance of meeting full, objectively assessed needs for market and affordable housing (established in the NPPF, March 2012), the NPPG emphasises increasing housing supply to improve affordability, and deliver the required number of affordable homes.

The NPPG also contains guidance on viability testing during plan-making, with a focus on the likely ability of the market to deliver proposed policies whilst also promoting economic growth and boosting the supply of housing. In particular, it is stressed that assessment should be based on current costs and values whereby:

"Policies should be deliverable and should not be based on an expectation of future rises in values at least for the first five years of the plan period."

The removal of the old guidance has changed methodologies which practitioners and local planning authorities relied upon, so it’s important to make sure the right advice is taken.

For more information on how Pioneer can help you understand the housing puzzle, please contact David Parker, Managing Director.

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