25 Jul 2018

The new revised National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) was delivered and came into force on 24 July 2018. The Government's response to the consultation on the revised framework notes that it has made a number of important changes in response to the consultation which closed on 10 May.     

Kevin Gibbs, Senior Counsel comments on the revised provisions on viability assessments.

"It seems that the Government has stepped back from their stance back in March which provided that:

"Where proposals for development accord with all the relevant policies in an up-to- date development plan, no viability assessment should be required to accompany the application."

"This means it would be difficult for developers to address changing circumstances and valuations once policies have been adopted. Strictly speaking the developer would be required to discharge obligations for contributions and affordable housing requirements set out in the adopted plan. 

"In the finalised version of the NPPF a viability assessment may be justified for compliant proposals where a developer is able to demonstrate whether particular circumstances justify the need for a viability assessment at the application stage. However, the weight to be given to a viability assessment is a matter for the decision maker:

"Having regard to all the circumstances in the case, including whether the plan and the viability evidence underpinning it is up to date, and any change in site circumstances since the plan was brought into force."

"Therefore there does now seem to be a window to argue for a viability assessment to accompany a planning application where circumstances have changed since the local plan was adopted."