Building better-designed homes in suitable areas is at the centre of new planning rules published by Housing Secretary James Brokenshire.
As well as giving communities a greater voice regarding how developments should look and feel, the new rules will also make it easier for councils to challenge poor quality developments.
Launched by the Prime Minister earlier this year, the revised National Planning Policy Framework is set to provide a comprehensive approach for developers, planners and councils to build more homes at a faster rate and in desirable places.
The new rule book will focus on: promoting high quality design of new homes and places; stronger protection for the environment; building the right number of homes in the right places; and greater responsibility and accountability for housing delivery from councils and developers.
“Fundamental to building the homes our country needs is ensuring that our planning system is fit for the future,” Brokenshire said.
“This revised planning framework sets out our vision of a planning system that delivers the homes we need. I am clear that quantity must never compromise the quality of what is built, and this is reflected in the new rules.”
He added: “We have listened to the tens of thousands of people who told us their views, making this a shared strategy for development in England.”
Promoting high quality design of new homes and places
The framework will ensure that councils have the confidence and tools to refuse permission for development that does not prioritise design quality and does not complement its surroundings.
By engaging with communities and allowing residents to see proposed developments before they are built, the new framework will encourage councils to also make use of innovative new visual tools to better design homes. This will ensure new homes fit in their surroundings.
Adopted neighbourhood plans will showcase clear local leadership in design quality. The framework aims to truly reflect the community’s expectations on how new developments will visually contribute to the local area.
However, while the framework will set the strategic direction for new build quality, it will ultimately remain up to councils to put these policies in motion in their respective area.
Stronger protection for the environment
The framework update is also set to ensure wildlife thrives, with the planning system aligning more closely with Defra’s 25 Year Environment Plan, which aims to protect habitats and places greater importance on air quality when deciding development proposals.
It also provides more protection for ancient woodland and veteran trees across the UK, ensuring they can be retained for future generations.
With this, the revised framework will enable councils to be more flexible and make the most of their brownfield land, as well as exhaust all other reasonable options for development before looking to alter a Green Belt boundary.
Building the right number of homes in the right places
The framework sets out a new way for councils to calculate the housing need of their local community (including different forms of housing) in order to help tackle unaffordable house prices in many areas across the country.
This will, in turn, deliver more homes in the places where they are most needed, based on the affordability of existing homes for people and lower/medium incomes.
Greater accountability for housing delivery from councils and developers
From November 2018, councils will have a Housing Delivery Test, which will focus on driving up the numbers of homes actually delivered in their area, rather than how many are planned for.
Clearer guidance for both developers and councils will also be published to ensure that the necessary infrastructure and affordable housing is delivered to support communities.
This will allow developers to know what is expected of them upfront before submitting a planning application; councils will have greater power to hold them to these commitments.