Small sites requirement watered down in revised NPPF

The government has watered down a controversial small sites requirement in the revised National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF), in response to sector concerns.

Small sites: new policy requirement
Small sites: new policy requirement
The new NPPF, published this afternoon, says that councils must accommodate ten per cent of their housing requirement on small sites, as opposed to 20 per cent of sites under the draft version.As part of a series of measures aiming to boost housing delivery, the draft NPPF, published in March, stated that “small sites can make an important contribution to meeting the housing requirement of an area, and are often built out relatively quickly”.

Consequently, it called for councils to “ensure that at least 20 per cent of the sites identified for housing in their plans are of half a hectare or less”.

However, the MHCLG consultation response document said that the policy in the new NPPF, at paragraph 68, instead requires local planning authorities “to ensure that at least ten per cent of their housing requirement (rather than 20 per cent of sites allocated) should be accommodated on sites of one hectare or less (rather than 0.5 hectares) that have been identified as suitable for housing (through the development plan or brownfield registers)”.

It said this was in response to concerns voiced by both councils and the private sector who “thought that the threshold of 0.5 hectares was too small to encourage a good mix of sites for small and medium builders and that it should be increased”.

Respondents also suggested the proposed percentage of 20 per cent of sites threshold “should be a percentage in relation to the housing requirement rather than the number of allocated sites”. Meanwhile, councils “expressed the view that the percentage requirement of 20 per cent of sites was too high and inflexible to use in practice”.

The proposal in the draft had caused concerns for many councils who expressed particular worries about the impact on resources.

In addition, the NPPF consultation response states that the government intends to proceed with the introduction of a new standard method of calculating housing need. But it says it will “consider adjusting the method” after new household growth projection figures are published in September, which “are likely to result in the minimum need numbers generated by the method being subject to a significant reduction”.

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