The sequel is a watering down of the original for age friendly housing, but by seeking to get more involved in the Local Plan process the bad reviews may not matter.
Publication of the revised National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) and accompanying Planning Practice Guidance (PPG) mark the biggest change to the planning system in nearly six years. It’s essentially the script which every Council should follow when determining a planning application or producing a Local Plan. For those of us who get excited by planning policy this is a big deal. -
So is this sequel a triumphant Godfather Part 2 or a disappointing Weekend at Bernie’s 2?
Well like most follow-ups, it’s all very familiar, but not as quite good as the original. Both the original and revised NPPF requires local authorities to calculate the level of need for retirement housing and care. Whilst we are hopeful of more detailed guidance on planning for housing for our ageing population being published this year, in the meantime, instead of local authorities being expected to ‘address’ this need in their Local Plan policies, the revised NPPF only requires for this need to be ‘assessed and reflected’ on in local authority policies.
This may sound like semantics, but in planning these changes to wording matter and it is a lower threshold for local authorities to pass when producing their Local Plans.
My view is that older person care and accommodation requires a helping hand within Local Plans to allow developers to acquire sites. Otherwise they will be regularly out bid by those delivering general market housing. It needs Local Plans to allocate specific sites, set targets for this type of unit for regeneration areas and produce bespoke policies to enable their delivery. While many Local Plans have grasped this opportunity and have sought to deliver this (such as Bromsgrove’s 2017 District Plan), others have not reached these heights.
The watering down of the wording of the NPPF is therefore disappointing. The wheels are not about to come off delivery though as a result of this and there continues to be an opportunity to boost the supply of age friendly housing and care.
As an industry we’ve not made the most of the previous policy levers. However, the wording of the PPG remains and this can help to achieve our goals. The PPG encourages allocations and positive individual policies for the sector as appropriate.
To avoid missing the opportunity to influence local policies now is the time to shout out about the benefits of proactive planning policies in Local Plans and use a narrative based approach to push for these to be included. When a local authority reviews their Local Plan there are many opportunities to get policies for our sector of the highest quality – either by becoming involved in the consultation process or by speaking to your local planning policy officer.
A concerted and consistent big push from the sector to become more visible in the plan-making process and utilising the remaining policy levers means that a disappointing sequel won’t affect quality of the spin off Local Plans.