The Government is currently asking for views on changes to a revised National Planning Policy Framework, which would require a council to have 20 per cent of its housing supply pipeline on small sites of less than half a hectare in size. Such sites potentially offer a quicker and more reliable source of housing delivery for Local Authorities who may have large strategic housing allocations which are struggling to get to market due to complex and high cost infrastructure obligations.

Mayler Colloton, Partner at Clague, said: “We’ve seen a growing demand from clients looking to build new homes on what could be described as infill plots with capacities for say 1-20 dwellings in towns across Kent, and this new planning policy is likely to increase this trend and generate more planning applications.

“Often the sites are on previously developed land, such as small former workshops now derelict and unloved, parking areas, or large garden plots which can be utilised to build new homes or flats and improve a local area.”

The scale of the housing growth in Kent and Medway demanded by the Government is considerable with local authorities now being targeted with delivering 11,722 new homes a year, an increase of 31 per cent on the area’s previous annual housing target of 8,945.

The latest figures from Kent County Council show the challenge facing councils and developers is considerable. In 2016/17 only 7,158 new homes were built, with only Dartford, Maidstone and Tonbridge & Malling hitting their annual targets.

Mayler Colloton added: “With the Government having set a 20 per cent target of all new homes on these small sites, we can expect to see greater interest in these projects from self-builders, SME’s and independent local house builders.

“Their local knowledge will help bring homes to the market which will be embedded in an existing community and some prospective purchasers may find this more individual or characterful than housing being delivered on the larger strategic housing sites.  Across Kent and Medway, the Government now wants to see more than 2,300 homes built every year on these small sites, which is quite a high target.

“Small sites will be a more important part of the housing mix, they can often be in built-up areas and have complex physical constraints or challenging contextual issues. Finding the right architectural solution and demonstrating a strong design narrative to Planning Officers and existing communities can often lead to more individual architecture that many prospective homeowners find very appealing.

Of course, this means that each application still needs to be processed by planning officers and often considered at Planning Committees which will be a further resource challenge for local authorities, many of whom are not hitting their current targets.”

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