We have lived with the National Planning Policy Framework since 2012. Generally it has been welcomed by the development industry. Whatever we have lost by the abolition of the old Regional Spatial Strategies, the NPPF does at least give a national set of principles to be applied by local planning authorities when formulating local plans, and by decision makers when no relevant up to date local plan or policy is in place.
Insofar as it was part of the government’s strategy to deliver more housing, it probably can be judged a success. The supply of housing has eased back up to about 180,000 units per annum, well above the levels at the low point of the recession, but still a long way short of the figures commonly quoted as needed to meet the demand to house new households (250,000 to 300,000 per annum). My view that the mere existence of the NPPF (not the detailed wording) has been the key to success. However, the fact that there is still a shortfall in housing delivery means that planning policy inevitably remains on the radar.
The government is seeking to address the housing supply issue. We live in a world of slogans – “Brexit means Brexit” so perhaps it is inevitable that the Housing White Paper and reform proposals were set out with similarly eye-catching (but ultimately meaningless) titles – “Fixing our Broken Housing Market” and “Planning for the Right Homes in the Right Places”.
Against this background, are the changes to the NPPF, now embodied in the 2018 framework, going to make a material difference in addressing housing delivery problems?