National Planning Policy Framework must go further to protect town centres and ensure UK economic growth

24 Jul 2018

The British Property Federation responds to the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) published today, urging the Government to recognise that the UK’s planning system must not focus on housing alone.

While the NPPF rightly embraces multi-tenure housing delivery, higher quality design of new homes and the benefits of the build-to-rent sector (new, professionally managed homes built for renters), the nation’s town centres and the industrial and logistics sectors still require more support from planning policy.

Ian Fletcher, Director of Real Estate Policy, British Property Federation comments:

Build-to-rent

“The Government’s NPPF gives formal recognition to the build-to-rent sector, which will give the sector a much-needed boost to deliver more high-quality rental homes across the country.

“With a target of 1.5 million new homes by 2022, the Government has rightly acknowledged that all housing tenures, including both homes-for-sale and build-to-rent, must be firing on all cylinders.

“Now, local authorities across the country must understand the sector’s benefits including its commitment to offering family-friendly tenancies, such as for three years, to those customers who want or need security.

Assessing housing need

“Currently, methods employed to calculate housing need vary significantly across the country and result in significant time and cost burdens, fundamental flaws that will impede an ambitious housebuilding programme if not resolved.

“We strongly support the standardised approach to assessing housing need without exception. Equally, we support the housing delivery test – this will provide a consistent measure against which different local authorities’ performances can be compared.

“This is the way that the Government will deliver on its housing promises, and as importantly, cater for a generation that wants to have a home to call their own.

Town centres

“The planning system for town centres, however, remains too inflexible and outdated. The way people use town centres is changing, and in turn town centres must be able to respond more quickly and innovatively to this.

“Leadership needs to come from local authorities and the starting point is a supportive planning policy. Local authorities should be given the resource to regularly monitor retail trends and adapt town centre planning policies accordingly.

“The continued rigid application of shop front policies, restricting changes of use, is preventing diversification and the introduction of new uses that are needed to boost the vitality of town centres.

“As the NPPF now gives local authorities the tools to better understand and plan for build-to-rent, I hope more local authorities will get behind the sector and use it strategically to bring more people onto our town centres’ doorsteps.

Industrial & logistics sectors

“It is unfortunate that the NPPF doesn’t give more impetus to sustainable economic growth, and the policies required to allow businesses to invest, expand and adapt.

“The Government must not neglect industrial development in favour of building housing. The NPPF refers to different sector needs, including ensuring provision for storage and distribution, but it doesn’t go far enough to protect key sites, strategically located fronting principal roads or at major junctions.

“While the pressure is on many local authorities to increase their housing figures, a balanced approach to planning is imperative. Local authorities must recognise the vital role that the industrial and logistics sectors play in creating jobs within the community, and in supporting businesses’ aspirations for growth and ability to deliver products to consumers more quickly.”

ENDS