Many may be unaware that a number of momentous events took place on 24 January. A few snippets of what happened on this day in history:
Whilst we may still have parliament disbanding (maybe), ministerial resignations, and housing remains very much a burning issue, (I’ll leave you to find parallels in other events in history on this day), it is the much less interesting paragraph 214 of the 2018 NPPF that is the subject of this short commentary.
Paragraph 214 states:
“The policies in the previous Framework will apply for the purpose of examining plans, where those plans are submitted on or before 24 January 2019. Where such plans are withdrawn or otherwise do not proceed to become part of the development plan, the policies contained in this Framework will apply to any subsequent plan produced for the area concerned.”
So any local plans submitted now will fall under the NPPF 2018. There is no real issue with that, however the local planning authority must now grapple with what housing need it is required to meet by NPPF paragraph 60, using the standard methodology.
Again all fine, save that the standard methodology relies upon the household projections published by the Office for National Statistics which last published its findings in September 2018.
Now not so fine: those findings used a different methodology to that previously used and (generally) resulted in a reduction in the housing need for a local authority’s area, which in some cases was significant. At the time, this was jumped upon by those authorities whose household need projections were materially reduced and were under pressure to approve housing schemes that were usually unwelcome by the constituents of the area – the vocal ones at least.
Realising that the target of 300,000 homes per annum would be undershot if the September 2018 housing need projections were used, the Government informed local planning authorities that they should not use these and instead should rely on the previous projections until they sort out the new ones. We are still waiting for that.
I know of at least one local planning authority that is still arguing in appeals and local plan examination that the September 2018 projections are the ones that meet the NPPF requirements. I am sure that there are more but the inspectorate seems to be pretty resilient to those arguments.
So our auspicious date brings with it confusion rather than clarity: for those plans not yet submitted, or for those that have or will be abandoned, the process has to start again.