THE FINAL COUNTDOWN
The clock has started ticking. The new NPPF landed at 2.13pm yesterday and several local authorities will have already red penned 24 January 2019 in their calendar.
The new NPPF retains the six-month transition period that was in the draft version, which allows local authorities a period of grace in which to submit their Local Plans before having to adopt the standard methodology for objectively assessed need. In areas where this was set to significantly increase housing delivery, this is seen as a stay of execution.
In a Local Plan meeting at one Council last night, the Director of Planning was expressing relief at the survival of the transition period and that the Council could “take advantage” of this to deliver a Local Plan based on lower numbers. It would be a “disaster” according to the Leader of the Council if the Plan was not submitted during the transition.
What do we take from this? That local councils are not at one with the Government on the housing crisis and growth agenda? Maybe, in some areas. After all, delivering at the local level has always been difficult. Some Councils in areas of high demand, such as beyond the London Green Belt are still finding it hard to allocate housing numbers and land that would be politically acceptable. Being expected to increase the numbers further is felt as being beyond the pale, at least for now.
Many of the Local Plans being submitted and adopted over the coming months will be required to undertake an immediate review on the basis of the new methodology. To some extent, racing to get plans submitted is therefore kicking the can down the road on housing delivery. We understand why this is happening and there would of course be a delay to current plan making if the new OAN was introduced. But care needs to be taken that the race is not at the expense of good planning.