Ministry of Housing

The government is focused on increasing the supply of new houses, and pledged to deliver 300,000 homes a year. The revised National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF), includes a requirement for local authorities to plan for a set number of homes to be calculated in accordance with a centrally set formula known as the standardised objectively assessed need (SOAN).

The SOAN takes the household projection figures published by the Office for National Statistics as a starting point. Initially the formula produced a SOAN figure of 265,000 homes a year – still short of the 300,000 promised, but significantly in excess of current delivery. However, in September revised household projection figures were released which indicated a 20% drop in need. When fed in to the formula the revised projection was a SOAN requirement for 213,000 homes a year.

The Government are now consulting on changes to Planning Practice Guidance that will require Local Planning Authorities to disregard the updated household projection figures in setting their SOAN and that will clarify that the updated figures do not constitute a very special circumstance that would allow a Local Planning Authority to deviate from the standardised method. They are also proposing to review the formula itself going forwards so that future revisions to the household projection figures do not impact on the SOAN requirement. This seems to be tacit acceptance from the Ministries of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) that the SOAN needs to meet a political target, rather than an evidence based one.

The consultation is open until 11.45pm on 7th December 2018 and details of the proposed changes and the means of response can be found here.

In addition, a further consultation has been issued entitled “Planning Reform: Supporting the high street and increasing the delivery of new homes”, which sets out a series of fresh proposed changes to the planning system.

In it the government is "seeking views on new permitted development rights to allow greater flexibility for change of use; use the airspace above existing buildings for additional new homes and extensions; remove the right to install new public call boxes and the associated advertising consent; and increase the height threshold for the installation of off-street electric vehicle charging points".

Amongst the proposals, the document includes a new national permitted development right "to allow shops (A1) financial and professional services (A2), hot food takeaways (A5), betting shops, pay day loan shop and launderettes to change to office use (B1)". It also proposes to allow hot food takeaways (A5) to change to residential use (C3).

It says that, "with the rise of internet shopping, and the change in how people use the high street, it is timely to consider how the operation of the Use Classes Order can support greater flexibility".

The MHCLG also says there "could be scope for a new use class that provides for a mix of uses within the A1, A2 and A3 uses beyond that which is considered to be ancillary, which would support the diversification of high street businesses".

This consultation runs until 11.45pm on 14 January 2019 and is available here.

  • Finally, the results of an earlier consultation have been released, with the government confirming that changes the “planning gain system” are to be introduced to “give developers and councils more certainty while enabling localities to capture a greater share of increased land values for spending on infrastructure and affordable housing”. MHCLG has said that it will consult on draft regulations later this year to put the revised arrangements in place that will:
    enable combined authorities with strategic planning powers to take forward a strategic infrastructure tariff
  • lift the pooling restrictions on section 106 contributions in all areas
  • take forward proposals to allow local authorities to seek a fee from applicants towards monitoring planning obligations

For further information on this subject please contact Fred Quartermain (


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