Housing Land Supply Confusion

Interpretation of Paragraph 226 of the December 2023 revision of NPPF

Please see update :http://tinyurl.com/339h2px2

Following publication of the amended National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) in December 2023, a diverse debate has ensued  regarding the interpretation of  Paragraph 226. Specifically interpretation of the requirement for Local Authorities (LA’s) to  demonstrate a four year housing supply where have an emerging local plan that has reached consultation stage (Reg 18 or 19)  and the consultation includes specific housing allocations supported by a  policies map.  This change has resulted in confusion over whether the requirement is to demonstrate a four-year supply against a four or a five-year housing requirement.

Zack Simons, (barrister at Landmark Chambers), argues that the text of the revised NPPF does not specify that the four-year supply is to be measured against a five-year requirement. He highlighted that previous versions of the NPPF, when talking about alternate measures of housing supply (e.g. in relation to neighbourhood plans) stated this. By not being specific in this matter, the NPPF is open to this interpretation.  

In contrast,  Chris Young KC of No5 Chambers argues that the clear intention of the Government is that the 4-year supply is to be measured against the five-year requirement. He states that paragraph 226, whilst not using the words ‘against five-year requirement,’ does state that the four-year supply is ‘instead of a minimum of five years.’

Why is this relevant?  In practice, it will be slightly easier for LA’s to demonstrate a four year supply measured against a five  year requirement.   

Due to the current interpretation difficulties,  local authorities are taking different approaches to the calculation of  housing supply.

St Albans City and District Council, in their most recent monitoring report, have calculated their housing supply based on a four-year requirement, updating their calculations accordingly. Although their calculations still show a significant shortfall in supply, the four-year supply is proportionally higher than its five-year supply.

In contrast. Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council consider that, as they can demonstrate a four-year housing supply against a five-year requirement, the presumption in favour of sustainable development is not triggered , this follows publication of their Local Plan consultation on 22nd January.

The Government have now confirmed that they will be providing a further update to the Planning Practice Guidance to clear up the confusion on this matter, until published, confusion reigns over the correct procedure for LA’s to apply.

For guidance on housing land supply and/or the development potential of a specific site/s, please contact the planning team at Evans Jones Ltd.

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