Posted by: Adam Roake | June 9, 2010


As predicted by the Telegraph and commented on by Michael Donnelly in Planning Magazine, Greg Clark has announced the end of “garden grabbing” and the abolition of the minimum density standard. He has done this by issuing a revised version of the Housing Planning Policy Statement, PPS 3, which excludes gardens from the definition of previously developed land and deletes the reference to a minimum density of 30 dwellings per hectare. So far, so predictable.

What seem to have been overlooked are the copious references to policies in Regional Spatial Strategies, including housing targets, which Local Authorities must take into account when drawing up their Local Development Plans. In this respect, paragraph 53 is particularly puzzling and states,

At the local level, Local Planning Authorities should set out in Local Development Documents their policies and strategies for delivering the level of housing provision, including identifying broad locations and specific sites that will enable continuous delivery of housing for at least 15 years from the date of adoption, taking account of the level of housing provision set out in the Regional Spatial Strategy. In circumstances where Regional Spatial Strategies are in development, or subject to review, Local Planning Authorities should also have regard to the level of housing provision as proposed in the relevant emerging Regional Spatial Strategy.

I can think of a number of barristers, who might argue that this latest Policy Statement, which of course post-dates Eric Pickles letter to Council Leaders of 27th May 2010, should therefore be afforded greater weight than that letter in determining a planning application. Of course, if they were on the other side, they’d argue it differently but, however you look at it, identifying 15 years land supply and specific sites for the first 5 years are policy requirements under the new, Coalition-promoted PPS3. If your local authority cannot do that in a robust way, it seems to me, they might find it difficult to sustain a refusal at appeal. Whilst Mr Pickles might have done away with RSS targets, in the absence of a robust assessment by an LPA of housing requirements in their area (do let me know if you’ve seen any LPA that has done this properly yet), it might just be that the planning regime has suddenly become “entirely permissive”.



  1. Adam

    I am waiting for version 4 of PPS3 (as we have had versions 2 and 3 this year so far) that could appear shortly. Mr Shapps said yesterday that he hoped formal parilmentary statements on the abolition of Regional Strategies and targets and transistional measures could be made within the next month.
    In the meantime with ‘no targets’ except those set locally, no ‘minimum densities’ and no ‘garden grabbing’ that accounted for a siginficant proportion of homes between 1997 and 2008 how does that help with housing delivery?

  2. Thanks for the comment Kevin. The new PS3 can be downloaded here:

    It is little changed from the previous version, including all the references to RSS and housing targets!

    I quite agree regarding the damaging impact this proposal will have on housing delivery – it does all seem a bit of a mess.

  3. Sorry, Kevin, I missed the point! Yes indeed the fourth yet to be published PPS3 will hopefully make matters a little clearer! Except do you think it will still be called a PPS?

  4. […] not so comforting. They might be able to ignore RSS housing targets but they do so at their peril, as I’ve argued before. They will need to have their own robust and evidenced targets in place quickly to avoid open […]

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