David Bainbridge, Bidwells, looks at how the definition of deliverable could impact the delivery of new homes.
What housing site is deliverable and what is not plays out throughout the country in discussions on planning applications, planning appeals and through legal challenges.
The current National Planning Policy Framework requires Local Planning Authorities to identify and update annually a supply of specific deliverable sites sufficient to provide five years’ worth of housing against their housing requirements plus appropriate buffer.
Deliverable is defined under footnote 11 of the NPPF and includes that sites should be available now, sites should be in a suitable location for development now and there should be a realistic prospect that housing will be delivered on the site within five years.
Currently sites with planning permission should be considered deliverable until planning permission expires unless there is evidence to the contrary. There is no further definition of deliverable under the Glossary in the current NPPF.
The application of this policy and guidance by LPAs varies significantly from those who exclude sites with only outline planning permission to those who include all such sites and include sites without any planning permission.
The key aspect of the NPPF consultation for measurement of deliverability of sites is found in the new definition of Deliverable in the Glossary.
The definition includes the qualification that sites with outline planning permission, permission in principle, allocated in the development plan or identified on a brownfield register should only be considered deliverable where is clear evidence that housing completions will begin within five years. This could be seen as a presumption that only sites with detailed planning permission are to be considered deliverable unless clear evidence indicates otherwise.
Depending what the Government does following the consultation this definition could result in LPAs being able to identify fewer deliverable sites and hence projected supply would fall.
There has been a trend towards LPAs wanting details on the projected delivery from sites which challenge the relevant housing land supply. Some LPAs require a timeline and some shorten the length of time in which to apply for the details of housing schemes.
Arguably the focus on maintaining a five years supply of housing land has already been eroded, or rather shored-up, as the Government introduced new rules in December 2016 and survived, unscathed, a legal challenge. Where an area has a made Neighbourhood Plan the requirement is for three years supply and now a new measure is to be brought in.
In Oxfordshire a housing and growth deal has been agreed between the six local authorities, the Oxfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership and Government. Part of the deal is to allow planning flexibilities subject to local consultation.
The delivery plan for the growth deal in Oxfordshire includes the potential for a three years housing land supply for the period of development of a new joint statutory spatial plan. Such flexibility is being watched by others who might also seek Government funding for infrastructure and a reduced housing land supply requirement for a limited time.
The potential tightening of what sites are deliverable might help debunk the land-banking headlines of some campaign groups. As many will know a site with outline planning permission is not necessarily all deliverable in the short-term as a detailed planning approval, and approval of technical details will be required and hence only some of the proposed new homes will come forward in the short-term, but this is not due to land-banking.
It is a matter of time until the new rules are commented on by the large housebuilders, some of whom comment regularly in trading updates and AGM statements about planning difficulties affecting the delivery of new homes.
As Pete Redfearn, Chief Executive of Taylor Wimpey Plc, said in their trading statement in April, there is a good demand for housing with continued good accessibility to mortgages at competitive rates and the Group continues to work with local authorities and communities to secure planning permission from their strategic pipeline.
It seems the Government continues to support house building as an important part of the national economy, and they are seeking to tighten-up what is deliverable and what is not.
David Bainbridge, MRTPI, Partner, Planning at Bidwells, has 20 years’ planning experience. He has successfully delivered planning permission and land allocations for residential, industrial, leisure and mixed-use developments. David is a former Chair of the East Midlands Royal Town Planning Institute, having qualified in 1999.
For more information visit www.bidwells.co.uk