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Good news for local and regional house builders

A government proposal that would require local authorities to ensure that one-fifth of their housing supply pipeline involved small sites of under half a hectare will be consulted on as part of the forthcoming revision of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF), the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) has confirmed.

In the autumn Budget, the government said it would consult on measures to require local authorities to bring forward 20 percent of their housing supply as small sites.

This would “speed up the building of new homes and supports the government’s wider ambition to increase competition in the housebuilding market”, the budget document stated.

An MHCLG spokesman told Planning: “We will be consulting on proposals through the forthcoming NPPF which we intend to publish for consultation in the coming months.”

He added that the definition of small sites, which was not outlined in the budget document, “are those which are smaller than 0.5 hectares”.

The government has said it hopes to consult on the new revised NPPF by the end of March. MHCLG chief planner Steve Quartermain’s latest newsletter, distributed to council planning chiefs this week, confirmed that the ministry intends to publish a draft revised National Planning Policy Framework “before Easter”. Good Friday falls on 30 March this year.

The 20 percent small sites requirement was one of several proposed measures announced in the Budget that aimed to ensure that planning permission is built out faster. The government also said it would consult on strengthening the Housing Delivery Test “with tougher consequences where planned homes are not being built”

Last year’s housing white paper included further proposals to promote the use of smaller sites to help “create particular opportunities for custom builders and smaller developers”.

It said the government would amend national policy “to expect local planning authorities to have policies that support the development of small ‘windfall’ sites” and to “indicate that great weight should be given to using small undeveloped sites within settlements for homes, where they are suitable for residential development”.