National Planning Policy Framework

5. Delivering a sufficient supply of homes

Paragraphs 59 to 79

59. To support the government’s objective of significantly boosting the supply of homes, it is important that a sufficient amount and variety of land can come forward where it is needed, that the needs of groups with specific housing requirements are addressed and that land with permission is developed without unnecessary delay

60. To determine the minimum number of homes needed, strategic policies should be informed by a local housing need assessment, conducted using the standard method in national planning guidance – unless exceptional circumstances justify an alternative approach which also reflects current and future demographic trends and market signals. In addition to the local housing need figure, any needs that cannot be met within neighbouring areas should also be taken into account in establishing the amount of housing to be planned for.

61. Within this context, the size, type and tenure of housing needed for different groups in the community should be assessed and reflected in planning policies (including, but not limited to, those who require affordable housing, families with children, older people, students, people with disabilities, service families, travellers1, people who rent their homes and people wishing to commission or build their own homes2).

62. Where a need for affordable housing is identified, planning policies should specify the type of affordable housing required3, and expect it to be met on-site unless:

(a) off-site provision or an appropriate financial contribution in lieu can be robustly justified; and

(b) the agreed approach contributes to the objective of creating mixed and balanced communities.

63. Provision of affordable housing should not be sought for residential developments that are not major developments, other than in designated rural areas (where policies may set out a lower threshold of 5 units or fewer). To support the re-use of brownfield land, where vacant buildings are being reused or redeveloped, any affordable housing contribution due should be reduced by a proportionate amount4.

64. Where major development involving the provision of housing is proposed, planning policies and decisions should expect at least 10% of the homes to be available for affordable home ownership5, unless this would exceed the level of affordable housing required in the area, or significantly prejudice the ability to meet the identified affordable housing needs of specific groups. Exemptions to this 10% requirement should also be made where the site or proposed development:

(a) provides solely for Build to Rent homes;

(b) provides specialist accommodation for a group of people with specific needs (such as purpose-built accommodation for the elderly or students);

(c) is proposed to be developed by people who wish to build or commission their own homes; or

(d) is exclusively for affordable housing, an entry-level exception site or a rural exception site.

65. Strategic policy-making authorities should establish a housing requirement figure for their whole area, which shows the extent to which their identified housing need (and any needs that cannot be met within neighbouring areas) can be met over the plan period. Within this overall requirement, strategic policies should also set out a housing requirement for designated neighbourhood areas which reflects the overall strategy for the pattern and scale of development and any relevant allocations6. Once the strategic policies have been adopted, these figures should not need re-testing at the neighbourhood plan examination, unless there has been a significant change in circumstances that affects the requirement.

66. Where it is not possible to provide a requirement figure for a neighbourhood area7, the local planning authority should provide an indicative figure, if requested to do so by the neighbourhood planning body. This figure should take into account factors such as the latest evidence of local housing need, the population of the neighbourhood area and the most recently available planning strategy of the local planning authority.

Identifying land for homes

67. Strategic policy-making authorities should have a clear understanding of the land available in their area through the preparation of a strategic housing land availability assessment. From this, planning policies should identify a sufficient supply and mix of sites, taking into account their availability, suitability and likely economic viability. Planning policies should identify a supply of:

(a) specific, deliverable sites for years 1 to 5 of the plan period8; and

(b) specific, developable sites or broad locations for growth, for years 6-10 and, where possible, for years 11-15 of the plan.

68. Small and medium sized sites can make an important contribution to meeting the housing requirement of an area, and are often built-out relatively quickly. To promote the development of a good mix of sites local planning authorities should:

(a) identify, through the development plan and brownfield registers, land to accommodate at least 10% of their housing requirement on sites no larger than one hectare; unless it can be shown, through the preparation of relevant plan policies, that there are strong reasons why this 10% target cannot be achieved;

(b) use tools such as area-wide design assessments and Local Development Orders to help bring small and medium sized sites forward;

(c) support the development of windfall sites through their policies and decisions – giving great weight to the benefits of using suitable sites within existing settlements for homes; and

(d) work with developers to encourage the sub-division of large sites where this could help to speed up the delivery of homes.

69. Neighbourhood planning groups should also consider the opportunities for allocating small and medium-sized sites (of a size consistent with paragraph 68(a) suitable for housing in their area.

70. Where an allowance is to be made for windfall sites as part of anticipated supply, there should be compelling evidence that they will provide a reliable source of supply. Any allowance should be realistic having regard to the strategic housing land availability assessment, historic windfall delivery rates and expected future trends. Plans should consider the case for setting out policies to resist inappropriate development of residential gardens, for example where development would cause harm to the local area.

71. Local planning authorities should support the development of entry-level exception sites, suitable for first time buyers (or those looking to rent their first home), unless the need for such homes is already being met within the authority’s area. These sites should be on land which is not already allocated for housing and should:

(a) comprise of entry-level homes that offer one or more types of affordable housing as defined in Annex 2 of this Framework; and

(b) be adjacent to existing settlements, proportionate in size to them9, not compromise the protection given to areas or assets of particular importance in this Framework10, and comply with any local design policies and standards.

72. The supply of large numbers of new homes can often be best achieved through planning for larger scale development, such as new settlements or significant extensions to existing villages and towns, provided they are well located and designed, and supported by the necessary infrastructure and facilities. Working with the support of their communities, and with other authorities if appropriate, strategic policy-making authorities should identify suitable locations for such development where this can help to meet identified needs in a sustainable way. In doing so, they should:

(a) consider the opportunities presented by existing or planned investment in infrastructure, the area’s economic potential and the scope for net environmental gains;

(b) ensure that their size and location will support a sustainable community, with sufficient access to services and employment opportunities within the development itself (without expecting an unrealistic level of self-containment), or in larger towns to which there is good access;

(c) set clear expectations for the quality of the development and how this can be maintained (such as by following Garden City principles), and ensure that a variety of homes to meet the needs of different groups in the community will be provided;

(d) make a realistic assessment of likely rates of delivery, given the lead-in times for large scale sites, and identify opportunities for supporting rapid implementation (such as through joint ventures or locally-led development corporations)11; and

(e) consider whether it is appropriate to establish Green Belt around or adjoining new developments of significant size.

Maintaining supply and delivery

73. Strategic policies should include a trajectory illustrating the expected rate of housing delivery over the plan period, and all plans should consider whether it is appropriate to set out the anticipated rate of development for specific sites. Local planning authorities should identify and update annually a supply of specific deliverable sites sufficient to provide a minimum of 5 years’ worth of housing against their housing requirement set out in adopted strategic policies12, or against their local housing need where the strategic policies are more than 5 years old13. The supply of specific deliverable sites should in addition include a buffer (moved forward from later in the plan period) of:

(a) 5% to ensure choice and competition in the market for land; or

(b) 10% where the local planning authority wishes to demonstrate a 5 year supply of deliverable sites through an annual position statement or recently adopted plan14, to account for any fluctuations in the market during that year; or

(c) 20% where there has been significant under delivery of housing over the previous 3 years, to improve the prospect of achieving the planned supply15.

74. A 5 year supply of deliverable housing sites, with the appropriate buffer, can be demonstrated where it has been established in a recently adopted plan, or in a subsequent annual position statement which:

(a) has been produced through engagement with developers and others who have an impact on delivery, and been considered by the Secretary of State; and

(b) incorporates the recommendation of the Secretary of State, where the position on specific sites could not be agreed during the engagement process.

75. To maintain the supply of housing, local planning authorities should monitor progress in building out sites which have permission. Where the Housing Delivery Test indicates that delivery has fallen below 95% of the local planning authority’s housing requirement over the previous 3 years, the authority should prepare an action plan in line with national planning guidance, to assess the causes of under-delivery and identify actions to increase delivery in future years.

76. To help ensure that proposals for housing development are implemented in a timely manner, local planning authorities should consider imposing a planning condition providing that development must begin within a timescale shorter than the relevant default period, where this would expedite the development without threatening its deliverability or viability. For major development involving the provision of housing, local planning authorities should also assess why any earlier grant of planning permission for a similar development on the same site did not start.

Rural housing

77. In rural areas, planning policies and decisions should be responsive to local circumstances and support housing developments that reflect local needs. Local planning authorities should support opportunities to bring forward rural exception sites that will provide affordable housing to meet identified local needs, and consider whether allowing some market housing on these sites would help to facilitate this.

78. To promote sustainable development in rural areas, housing should be located where it will enhance or maintain the vitality of rural communities. Planning policies should identify opportunities for villages to grow and thrive, especially where this will support local services. Where there are groups of smaller settlements, development in one village may support services in a village nearby.

79. Planning policies and decisions should avoid the development of isolated homes in the countryside unless one or more of the following circumstances apply:

(a) there is an essential need for a rural worker, including those taking majority control of a farm business, to live permanently at or near their place of work in the countryside;

(b) the development would represent the optimal viable use of a heritage asset or would be appropriate enabling development to secure the future of heritage assets;

(c) the development would re-use redundant or disused buildings and enhance its immediate setting;

(d) the development would involve the subdivision of an existing residential dwelling; or

(e) the design is of exceptional quality, in that it:

  • is truly outstanding or innovative, reflecting the highest standards in architecture, and would help to raise standards of design more generally in rural areas; and

  • would significantly enhance its immediate setting, and be sensitive to the defining characteristics of the local area.

Footnotes

  1. Planning Policy for Traveller Sites sets out how travellers’ housing needs should be assessed for those covered by the definition in Annex 1 of that document. 

  2. Under section 1 of the Self Build and Custom Housebuilding Act 2015, local authorities are required to keep a register of those seeking to acquire serviced plots in the area for their own self-build and custom house building. They are also subject to duties under sections 2 and 2A of the Act to have regard to this and to give enough suitable development permissions to meet the identified demand. Self and custom-build properties could provide market or affordable housing. 

  3. Applying the definition in Annex 2 to this Framework. 

  4. Equivalent to the existing gross floorspace of the existing buildings. This does not apply to vacant buildings which have been abandoned. 

  5. As part of the overall affordable housing contribution from the site. 

  6. Except where a Mayoral, combined authority or high-level joint plan is being prepared as a framework for strategic policies at the individual local authority level; in which case it may be most appropriate for the local authority plans to provide the requirement figure. 

  7. Because a neighbourhood area is designated at a late stage in the strategic policy-making process, or after strategic policies have been adopted; or in instances where strategic policies for housing are out of date. 

  8. With an appropriate buffer, as set out in paragraph 73. See glossary for definitions of deliverable and developable 

  9. Entry-level exception sites should not be larger than one hectare in size or exceed 5% of the size of the existing settlement. 

  10. i.e. the areas referred to in footnote 3 in chapter 2. Entry-level exception sites should not be permitted in National Parks (or within the Broads Authority), Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty or land designated as Green Belt. 

  11. The delivery of large scale developments may need to extend beyond an individual plan period, and the associated infrastructure requirements may not be capable of being identified fully at the outset. Anticipated rates of delivery and infrastructure requirements should, therefore, be kept under review and reflected as policies are updated. 

  12. For the avoidance of doubt, a 5 year supply of deliverable sites for travellers – as defined in Annex 1 to Planning Policy for Traveller Sites – should be assessed separately, in line with the policy in that document. 

  13. Unless these strategic policies have been reviewed and found not to require updating. Where local housing need is used as the basis for assessing whether a five year supply of specific deliverable sites exists, it should be calculated using the standard method set out in national planning guidance. 

  14. For the purposes of paragraphs 73(b) and 74 a plan adopted between 1 May and 31 October will be considered ‘recently adopted’ until 31 October of the following year; and a plan adopted between 1 November and 30 April will be considered recently adopted until 31 October in the same year. 

  15. From November 2018, this will be measured against the Housing Delivery Test, where this indicates that delivery was below 85% of the housing requirement.