Landowners across Devon and Cornwall have a limited window of opportunity to capitalise upon a shortfall in many Local Planning Authorities’ required five year housing land supplies.

Demand for new homes is being driven by improvements in the wider economy and positive market sentiment within the housing market. This has been partly fuelled by the Government’s Help-to-Buy scheme, which has so far recorded 15,410 reservations in its first six months.

In response, house builders are continuing to acquire large multi-plot sites; either buying land with existing planning permission or taking on strategic land in key settlements throughout the South West peninsular.

Central government planning policy, set out in the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF), encourages land to be brought forward for development, boosting housing supply and generating growth in the economy through construction and infrastructure projects.

The NPPF states that development proposals which accord with the Development Plan, should be approved without delay. It also states that where the Development Plan is absent, silent or relevant policies are out of date, permission should be granted unless any adverse impacts of doing so would significantly and demonstrably outweigh the benefits. Furthermore, relevant policies for the supply of housing should not be considered ‘up to date’ if the Local Planning Authority cannot demonstrate a five-year housing land supply of deliverable housing sites, and therefore directs Local Planning Authorities to consider housing applications favourably.

Local Planning Authorities which do not have an adopted Local Plan or a five-year land supply, therefore find themselves in a planning vacuum.

This provides a clear opportunity for landowners who have land that falls within these Local Planning Authorities and who are prepared to take a proactive approach by either promoting their land themselves or entering into an Option or a Promotion Agreement, to make sure their land comes forward faster than expected.

The following Local Planning Authorities across Devon and Cornwall do not currently have a five year housing land supply – either through their own admission or through the estimations of independent inspectors that have determined recent appeals [Cornwall, East Devon, North Devon, South Hams, South Somerset, Teignbridge, Torbay and Torridge].

These Local Planning Authorities are facing a growing number of early Planning Applications being submitted by land promoters and house builders on greenfield land, which is outside the development boundary and is unallocated for development.

Mark Chugg at Savills says, “We have already witnessed this trend first hand, as many of our clients who have land under either Option or Promotion Agreements are seeing their promotional partners submitting early Planning Applications on their land to take advantage of the current vacuum.

Time is of the essence because, as Local Planning Authority’s Local Plans are adopted and Planning Permissions close the gap on the housing land supply shortage these opportunities for landowners will diminish.”