Changes to national planning policy will stall development activity and economic growth
- BPF warns proposed changes to the National Planning Policy Framework will slow down local plan-making and housing delivery
- BPF warns of knock-on effects for commercial development with reduced housing delivery likely to mean less land allocated for employment uses
Proposed changes to the National Planning Policy Framework (“NPPF”) risk undermining the Government’s aim of delivering 300,000 new homes per year and will severely restrict the development of the employment space needed to drive economic growth, according to the British Property Federation (“BPF”).
In its response to the Government consultation, which closes today (2 March 2023), the BPF argues that the changes to national planning policy ‘actively work against’ Government's stated ambition of increasing housing delivery and driving levelling up, and describes the potential impact on commercial development as ‘extremely concerning’.
The BPF argues that changes in how local authorities should assess housing need, with councils no longer required to demonstrate a five-year housing land supply pipeline if the Local Plan is less than five years old, will mean there is less urgency in bringing forward residential development.
The BPF also highlights ‘clear contradictions’ between the policy to focus housing delivery in 20 of the UK’s largest town and cities, and the new proposal to water down requirements for local authorities to undertake a green belt review, with most of the urban areas identified for housing growth surrounded by green belt or undeveloped land.
The BPF warns that a decline in housing delivery would mean a proportionate decrease in land allocated for employment uses, which in turn would impact economic growth and productivity.
While the BPF fully supports areas having up-to-date Local Plans in place, the current five-year cycle for plan-making means policy simply cannot keep pace with changes in the economy and demand for workspace. As a result, the demand for industrial and logistics space, in particular, has been underestimated in planning policy for a decade, with the BPF calling on Government to introduce more strategic planning for employment space and infrastructure to ensure that these forms of development can be brought forward in a more coordinated way.
Melanie Leech, Chief Executive, British Property Federation said: “We fully support the Government’s aim to harness the planning system to increase housing delivery and drive levelling up but the proposed reforms will only create more delays and obstacles to development at a time when market conditions are already very challenging.
“The proposed changes to how local authorities assess housing need will create less urgency rather than more, and if fewer homes are delivered it follows that less land will be allocated for employment uses. In order to create communities that are truly sustainable we need a planning framework that strikes the right balance between addressing housing need at the local level, and enabling a national strategic approach to employment space and infrastructure.
“We are expecting consultations on planning for logistics space and the infrastructure levy over the course of this year, and while we are pleased to see Government engaging fully with industry, the piecemeal nature of planning reform is causing further uncertainty.”
Read the BPF’s full consultation response here.