HBF was particularly active during the consultation into the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF), a vital document that has formed the basis of the new planning system. We were central to ensuring there was some balance in the high profile media debate that raged on the NPPF during the Summer of 2011.
Its publication in March 2012 ushered in a new ‘localism’ based era for planning. While the system remains development plan led, the NPPF introduced a “presumption in favour of sustainable development”. There is a clear requirement in the NPPF for local authorities to keep development plans up to date and to ensure that they maintain a deliverable 5 year housing land supply.
Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL)
The Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) is a new process aimed at simplifying the way development makes a fair and affordable contribution towards infrastructure necessary to support development. HBF continues to work hard with both Government and members to implement CIL in a practical way. We are working with members to coordinate responses to emerging CIL schedules and with both central and local Government to ensure that S106 requirements are truly scaled back to actual site specific infrastructure provision in order that the real benefits of a CIL based process for developer contributions can be delivered quickly and affordably.
The scrapping of the regional strategies means that it is now up to each local planning authority to establish a robust evidence base for housing requirements for their area.
HBF is, therefore, starting to engage at a local level with local authorities with a new, locally based, team of professional planners to try and ensure that this self assessment is based on justified evidence such that plans are deliverable and viable. Similarly we are coordinating and encouraging HBF member participation in the production and examination of housing assessments to ensure that local authorities identify and maintain a deliverable and developable 5 year housing land supply.
Localism is all about early engagement with local communities, whether directly or through their elected representatives and professional officers. HBF is endeavouring to facilitate this engagement in an effective and productive manner in order that local authorities deliver sites for housing that are viable and developable.
Strategic planning, through the newly introduced “duty to co-operate”, will also be a key part of the delivery of new dwellings. Engagement with the development plan process will seek to ensure that such joint working is a meaningful exercise rather than merely a tick box approach.
Other “larger than local” organisations such as Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) will also present opportunities for HBF and its members to ensure that the importance of housing is recognised not just for providing dwellings for people to live in but as a major contributor to the local economy. HBF is continuing to monitor and engage in the work of LEPs and facilitate direct member involvement to ensure both that their roles are well defined and supported by central Government and that they ensure that local authorities deliver housing and economic growth.