NPPF consultation is a ‘once in a generation’ missed opportunity

Proposed changes to the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) will fail to meet the government’s target of building 300,000 homes a year and destroy the UK’s plan led approach to development, as well as having a significant impact on the economy, says Muller Property Group.

Colin Muller, chief executive of Muller Property Group, had anticipated that the NPPF reforms would boost the Levelling Up agenda and lay the ground for significant growth regionally and at a national level. However, the once in a generation opportunity to reform the planning system and provide an economic boost has been missed with new planning policies more likely to thwart than facilitate development.

The numbers are chilling – £20 billion less economic activity and over £3 billion less investment in affordable housing according to the HBF.

As well as stifling the creation of much-needed new homes the impact on jobs will be significant according to the HBF who are predicting the loss of nearly 400,000 jobs (including 4,000 apprenticeships).

Muller believes that the proposed reforms are a whitewash, “This government had a great opportunity to carry out an overhaul of the planning system but it’s clear that that those in Whitehall have bigger fish to fry and planning reform is effectively being kicked into the long grass.

“There is a lack of experience and depth of knowledge on planning matters which are complex and muti-faceted. What we are seeing will do little to help the country as it struggles with the current economic crisis. It’s a huge missed opportunity.”

In an open letter to the Planning Policy Consultation Team, Mr Muller has raised major concerns with the proposals which he describes as an underhand ‘tracked changes’ attempt to remove the UK’s plan led approach to development.

“As has already been demonstrated across several local councils, these proposed changes have given local authorities the green light to delay on both reviewing and delivering housing targets,” continued Muller. “The NPPF must retain the requirement for local planning authorities to meet their objectively assessed housing need in full, working with their neighbouring authorities to achieve this.  Failure to do so will lead to a reduction in the housing supply required to support our growing and ageing communities.

“If open market housing delivery is reduced, our affordable housing provision will also drop proportionately.  Over the last five years, more than 300,000 new affordable homes have been provided in England, and 40% of these were through S106. If local authorities are released from the requirement to meet housing need, it will significantly reduce the number of affordable homes they are able to secure.

“The housebuilding industry needs a firm signal that the creation of sustainable developments in suitable locations is a government priority, and a clear and workable path to delivery.  Alongside the watering down of terminology in favour of NIMBYism, this consultation failed to explain how the Infrastructure Levy will work or how changes to the NPPF will impact on Net Zero ambitions.  Thus far, it has served only to create greater uncertainty in the industry and obfuscation within planning authorities, delaying developments, and negatively impacting the already challenging housebuilding climate.”

Read the open letter in full here: Levelling Up & Regeneration Bill – Response of Muller Property Group