A consultation on crucial changes to the National Planning Policy Framework opened today. The proposed amendments to affordable housing and green belt policy are significant and could well make the difference between a scheme coming forward or being left on the back burner.

The key proposals in the consultation are as follows:

  • amending the definition of low cost housing to include a wider range of lower cost or shared equity housing;
  • promoting higher levels of housing densities near railway stations and in other 'commuter hubs';
  • increasing the level of policy support for entirely new settlements and towns;
  • increasing the level of policy support for  brownfield residential developments of less than ten units;
  • introducing a 'delivery test' for housing allocations in Local Plans and putting policies in place to ensure action is taken when there is a significant under-delivery of housing;
  • Extending the current 'exception site' policy for starter homes to cover unviable or underused employment or commercial land;
  • Strengthening the current 'exception site' policy for starter homes to ensure that they are only refused if there are over-riding design, infrastructure or local environmental issues which cannot be satisfactorily mitigated;
  • Including policy support for the provision of starter homes in mixed use schemes; rural areas and neighbourhood plan allocations; and
  • amending green belt policy to make it easier to bring forward starter homes on previously developed green belt land. 

The consultation closes on 25 January 2016