Housing need and the NPPF

Following the publication of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) in March 2012, local planning authorities have been forced to take some tough decisions in respect to their proposed housing strategies.

Whilst local authorities are now required to set their own housing requirements, paragraph 47 of the NPPF clearly states that local plans are required to meet the full, objectively assessed needs for market and affordable housing for that area, so far as is consistent with other policies of the NPPF.

To understand the full, objectively assessed needs for market and affordable housing, each local authority is required to prepare a Strategic Housing Market Assessment (SHMA). It is this document that ultimately informs and dictates what the housing requirements for a local area should be. There would need to be strong and robust justification for not meeting the needs set out in the Strategic Housing Market Assessment.

The importance of the Strategic Market Housing Assessment has been strongly emphasised by the Planning Inspectorate at several recent Examinations-in-Public where a number of local authorities have been found to have unsound local plans as they have decided not to meet the housing need set out in their Strategic Market Housing Assessments.

A key issue also raised by the Planning Inspector in several of these examinations was the failure to take account of an aging population and the impact this would have on the available housing options for the economically active population. The failure to provide sufficient housing was deemed to not only fail to meet the housing need but would also encourage economic decline. The following local authorities have subsequently withdrawn or suspended their local plan examinations following advice from a Planning Inspector in respect to their housing requirement:

  • Dacorum Borough Council – Dacorum Core Strategy (2006 – 2031)
  • Rother District Council – Local Plan (2011 – 2028)
  • Ryedale District Council – Ryedale Plan: Local Plan Strategy (2012 – 2027)
  • East Hampshire and South Downs National Park Authority – Local Plan: Joint Core Strategy (JCS)
  • Bath and North East Somerset District Council – Core Strategy (2011 – 2026)
  • Hull City Council – Core Strategy (2011 – 2026)
  • Rushcliffe Borough Council – Core Strategy (2013 – 2028)

Nick Bowles in his speech ‘Housing the Next Generation’, which was given on 10 January 2013, states

“The National Planning Policy Framework spells it out clearly. As they draw up their local plans, councils must assess their local need in an objective way. And they must identity immediately developable sites sufficient to supply all the new homes that are needed over the next 5 years. Now, many councils are embracing this duty with energy and imagination. But some are dragging their feet. Councils which do not produce credible plans to meet local housing need will find that the presumption in favour of sustainable development will trump local decisions”.

Given the Government’s drive to boost housing supply and the pressure placed on local authorities to find more housing sites, there is an excellent opportunity now in which to promote land for development. Plainview Planning has strong expertise in land promotion and negotiation with local authorities. These skills have proved successful in getting sites allocated within local plans.

For more information on land promotion, or to discuss your project with one of our planners, e-mail direct to, or call one of our regional offices.