Housing Land – How can NPF4 ensure the housing delivery that Scotland needs?
07 May 2020
With the world and society in the midst of a paradigm shift in how we socialise, go about business or even go to the shops, planning reform in Scotland continues. The Scottish government’s consultation on NPF4 ended on 30 April with this being the first of the major changes arising out of last year’s Planning (Scotland) Act to start filtering through.
Lichfields has prepared and submitted a response to the consultation, specifically focussing on its Housing Technical Discussion Paper. The Technical Paper sets out the Scottish government’s initial thoughts on how housing need and demand will be planned for as part of an enhanced NPF which will for the first time form part of the statutory development plan. With housing supply targets/housing land requirements now being set to be included within NPF instead of strategic development plans and/or local development plans, there are a host of considerations about how best to plan for housing.
Building on our experience across Scotland as well as best practice from elsewhere in the UK, we’ve set out our suggestions, the key findings and recommendations of which include:
- Streamlining in the setting of housing land requirements is welcomed but must not come at the expense of robustness and transparency;
- The focus should be on outcomes, namely the delivery of homes, not simply land that homes could be built on;
- We must plan looking forward, based on need, demand and policy objectives, not past trends;
- Consistency in approach across Scotland will lead to greater transparency and efficiency both in formulation and scrutiny;
- Housing Land Audits should be standardised and include housing trajectories and monitoring of delivery with realistic programming for all sites included. Lichfields ‘Start to Finish’ research is a good starting point for understanding the length of time housing sites take to come forward;
- NPF must require that LDPs maintain a minimum 5 year supply of truly deliverable effective land for housing at all times – this will require ongoing monitoring during the 10 year plan cycles we’re moving toward with steps for mid-cycle intervention if necessary;
- Deliverable land must be identified for the entire plan period;
- Viability and marketability should play an enhanced role in considering the effectiveness of land for housing and its distribution around plan areas.
We’re looking forward to seeing how this pans out and hope that the significant opportunity to shake up how we plan for and deliver housing is grasped.