The Government has now published the revised National Planning Policy Framework (NPFF). With this comes the opportunity for applicants and appellants to consider their undetermined development proposals and s106 offerings in light of the new policies and the revised presumption in favour of sustainable development. For a summary of the new NPPF read our article The new NPPF: Unpicking the threads.
One area with potential for re- negotiation is affordable housing. The new NPPF has widened the definition, which is set out at Annex 2, to include Discounted Market Sales Housing, Starter Homes and ‘other affordable routes to home ownership’. It is well worth questioning if the current tenure mix offered via s106 Agreement can be varied/ expanded to include these new products. Any S106 Agreements currently being negotiated should be carefully considered in light of the new definition to ensure the drafting is sufficiently wide to include all new products now classified as 'affordable'. We are aware that councils are reconsidering drafting in anticipation of this.
It is much easier to vary what goes in to a s106 Agreement prior to its completion. For schemes yet to be determined, or for any live appeals, now is the time to start discussions with the council, or make representations to Inspectors. PINS have been actively seeking input on live appeals and applicants should welcome this opportunity.
A final word of caution. Where viability assessments have been required to negotiate affordable housing, these may need to be revisited to take account of any new tenures proposed, and also to accord with the new planning practice guidance (PPG). These are likely to be treated as public documents.