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NPPF with Added Viability

6th August 2018

It's here - the new all singing and dancing NPPF 2018 - now with added viability!

Much cleverer people than us will provide comment on the planning issues this raises, but as our speciality is viability (400+ submissions and counting), we thought we had better have a look to see how this will affect our clients in the development industry.

For us there are two key documents - the NPPF itself and the Viability Guidance that accompanies it.

Key viability points from the NPPF are:

  • Plans should set out the contributions expected from development.
  • Planning applications that comply with up to date policies should be assumed to be viable. It is for the developer to justify the need for viability and the authority to determine the weight to be given to the viability submitted.
  • All viabilities should be submitted in accordance with the Viability Guidance Policy and be made publicly available.
  • Vacant building credit is back!

The NPPF is probably light on viability policy as that is dealt with in the Viability Guidance Note. That is 13 pages of fun-packed policy designed specifically to counter the main principle of government to increase the supply of land for the delivery of housing.

There is much for us to review - too much for a single post - so we will do it in various posts over the next week or so. However, to whet your appetite highlights will include:

  • The huge task facing local authorities in preparing viability assessments and benchmark land values for every site in their area. That shouldn't take too long then!
  • The continued need for site-specific viability assessments until that process is completed.
  • Review mechanisms that allow the authority to take more in good markets but which prevent the developer form giving less in bad markets. That should go down well with the funders!
  • The invention of a completely opaque and fictitious valuation methodology to assess benchmark land value.

The publicly stated aim of the government is to deliver more housing. The vast majority of this housing is delivered by national housebuilders who rely on land supply from land owners. It is the land owners that are bearing the brunt of current and proposed policy with a hidden tax on land value uplift running at over 70%.

How long before supply dries up like a scorched stream in an English summer?

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