The revised National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) was published in July 2018. Among the many changes are some significant implications for the delivery of rural affordable housing. Generally, the provision of rural housing is encouraged. However, the delivery of affordable housing in rural communities will remain challenging.
The NPPF has ‘enshrined’ earlier Written Ministerial Guidance which removed the requirement to provide affordable housing within schemes of 10 or less dwellings. A commuted sum can be required for schemes of 6-10 dwellings but only in designated rural areas (defined under s157 of the 1985 Housing Act). Unfortunately no rural communities in Cambridgeshire fall under this designation. This means that affordable housing will only be delivered where communities are subjected to larger development proposals (often speculative proposals against community wishes where the Local Plan has been deemed out of date) or on rural exception sites.
Fortunately, rural exception sites have been afforded some protection by the decision to scale back the proposal for Entry Level Exception Sites (ELES). These had threatened to undermine rural exception sites by generating higher land values through an element of market housing. The final decision to restrict ELES to affordable housing tenures only should mean that they cannot outbid rural exception schemes.