Katherine Evans, Partner and Head of Planning, commented:
“There are a lot of changes to the revised NPPF in the government’s responses.
“Looking at paragraph 67, it appears that “small sites” have changed to “small and medium sized sites” and in addition to this, whereas the previous version stated that 20 per cent of sites identified for housing should be half a hectare or less, the new version states that “at least 10 per cent of their housing requirement on sites no larger than one hectare”. This is a relatively large change and is probably to provide more flexibility in the identification of these sites, both in terms of number and size.
“Another notable revision of the NPPF is that paragraph 69 reflects the change to small and medium sized sites in the requirement for Neighbourhood planning groups to consider opportunities to allocate this size of site. This broadens the scope for development opportunities.
“Paragraph 71 changes where exception sites might be located. Previously, it referred to sites outside existing settlements but this has now been deleted so that it is just sites that are not allocated for housing. There is a question as to how well this change sits with sub-paragraph b, however, which still refers to the sites being “adjacent to existing settlements”. Sub-paragraph a also changes the type and potentially the proportion of “entry-level homes” necessary by removing the reference to a “high proportion” so that it must be one or more types of affordable housing rather than discounted sale or affordable rent. A footnote also adds that entry level exception sites should not be more than one hectare in size or exceed five per cent of the size of the existing settlement.
“Paragraph 72, on planning for larger scale development, has been substantially expanded and sub-paragraphs b to d have been added. These provide references to Garden City principles and are probably taking a lead from the Letwin review. For example, sub-paragraph d refers to rates of delivery, lead-in times, rapid implementation – references to joint ventures or locally-led development corporations.
“Overall, this response to the revised NPPF consultation demonstrates that the government has drawn some lessons from the feedback it has received. The result is a revised NPPF which deviates more than expected from the draft and which provides greater flexibility for developers.”