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Autumn White Paper East of England

It is important to note, with the ‘controversy’ generated around the draft Planning White Paper, that there were in fact two consultations being undertaken with two different deadlines.  The first was on a set of changes that are to be delivered though amendments to policy not requiring legislative changes.  DLP made submissions on the proposed changes to the Standard Method (informed by their previous work with others in making formal submissions to the Government). The representations also supported the inclusion of First Homes as part of the affordable definition, and the increase in the size of sites, before the affordable housing provision is required from 10 to 50 dwellings. The Government’s response is awaited but it has signalled its intent and the changes may be introduced with very short lead in times.

So far as the East of England is concerned, the headline impact is an uplift of just 12%.  Only Yorkshire and the Humber have a lower uplift at 8%. Part of the reason for this is that while some parts of the East of England have much higher housing requirements, other areas have substantially reduced. The reason for the changes is twofold. Firstly, the differences between the 2014 and 2018 household projections, and secondly, the impact of the new affordability calculation.

Like the previous transitional arrangements (from the 2012 to 2018 NPPF), the procedures now proposed will allow for those plans that are presently in preparation i.e. near or close to the Regulation 19 submission, to be taken though the system (a process which in some cases has taken some years under the last set of transitional arrangements). As such “new style” Local Plans may be still a considerable time away for some areas.

Other impacts might be as follows:

  • Step 3 of the White Paper Standard Method allows constraints to be factored into the final requirement. So that areas around London with extensive Green Belt may, as a result of this final step, have a much lower requirement than the starting figure.
  • Under the proposed transitionary arrangements, Councils seeking not to meet the White Paper Standard Method Housing Requirement, will however still have to fulfil the Statement of Common Ground and Duty to Cooperate requirements. There are no such requirements in the proposed new style local plan approach where unmet housing requirements will simply remain unmet.
  • There appear to be very few levers for the Government to pull if Councils either intentionally, or for reasons of funding or competence, fail to produce a plan or produce plans with zonings which are not able to deliver at the rates anticipated. For areas with extensive Green Belt and/or AONB, a “do nothing” approach, may appear quite appealing.

In respect of appeals, the expectation is that these will be fewer, as policies will be clearer, and all local authorities will theoretically have a 5-year supply and ‘up to date’ plans. Such a statement is perhaps less surprising, if one takes into account the potential ability for Councils to influence the housing requirement by reference to the constraints in Step 3 of the SM, and the slimmed down test of deliverability.

These changes may have a substantial impact on the process for the allocation and promotion of land for development, as well as impacting on obtaining developable planning permissions and the role of appeals.  It is therefore important that all those who operate within the system consider these proposals carefully and their potential impact.

Click here to view the full briefing note.

DLP delivered a Webinar on the implications of the White Paper on the 26th October and this may, because of demand, be repeated. Other webinars being run by the Practice will be announced via our social media channels.

John HelyarAutumn White Paper East of England