The Prime Minister has launched a set of planning reforms aimed at tackling the housing shortage and delivering homes for everyone.
The reforms mark a major overhaul to the National Planning Policy, focusing on maximising the use of land, strengthening protections for the Green Belt, and placing a greater emphasis on converting planning permissions into homes.
Theresa May has warned developers who are too slow to build houses that their past record could count against them when they bid for new planning permissions. She wants to rewrite the rules on planning to help developers and local authorities to build more properties to allow more people to own their home.
The government is determined to tackle the housing shortage and has already implemented a number of measures to secure new housing developments.
With government support, 2017 saw the biggest increase in housing supply in England – over 217,000 new homes – for almost a decade. However the government aim is to deliver 300,000 homes a year by the mid-2020s. In order to achieve this, more planning permissions need to be fast tracked to allow both first time buyers access to the housing market, and our increase the supply of appropriate housing to the older.
It is to this end that Prime Minister is conducting the first major overhaul to the National Planning Policy Framework in six years. The reforms provide a comprehensive approach for planners, developers and councils to build more homes, more quickly, in the places people want to live. Councils and developers will now be required to work with community groups to ensure those affected by new developments will have a say on how they look and feel. It will focus on the following areas:
Greater responsibility: Local authorities will have a new housing delivery test focused on driving up the numbers of homes actually delivered in their area, rather than numbers planned for. Developers will also be held to account for delivering the commitments, including affordable housing and the infrastructure needed to support communities.
Maximising the use of land: Local authorities will be allowed to make the most of existing brownfield land for housing, while using redundant retail or industrial land will be encouraged, with more flexibilities given to extend upwards.
Maintaining strong protections for the environment: Ensuring developments bring environmental benefits environment where possible, as well as increasing the protection given to ancient woodland.
Ensuring the right homes are built: Delivering more affordable homes that meet the housing needs of everyone such as; first time buyers, build to rent homes, guaranteed affordable homes for key workers, and adapted homes for older people.
Higher quality and design: Introducing new quality standards for well designed new.
More transparent planning process: Local authorities will be encouraged to work together and continue to close the gap between planning permissions granted and homes built.
Housing Secretary, Sajid Javid, said: “An entire generation is being locked out of a broken housing market as prices and rents race ahead of supply. Reforming the planning system is the crucial next step to building the homes the country needs.
“This government is determined to fix the broken housing market and restore the dream of home ownership for a new generation. There is no silver bullet to this problem but we’re re-writing the rules on planning so we can take action on all fronts.
“In moving to a more integrated society, the focus for everyone, whether a developer or a neighbourhood group, must be to come together to build the homes our communities deserve.”
John Acres, MRTPI, President, The Royal Town Planning Institute, said: “We are delighted to be co-launching the consultation on the new National Planning Policy Framework today and we encourage the planning profession and others who care about planning and what it can do, to feed back to government.
“The RTPI will be holding a series of round table sessions for our members around the country to discuss its contents.
“Planners are critical to and passionate about building vibrant and connected neighbourhoods, towns, cities and wider areas; at the heart of which we need to ensure we build enough good quality homes that fit the needs of all.
“A clear, concise and consistent policy context can help to deliver this. We applaud the government’s focus on homes and planning and in revising the framework.”
However, the Prime Minister is clear that the answer to the housing crisis does not lie in tearing up the Green Belt. The Government will be maintaining existing strong protections so that authorities can only amend Green Belt boundaries if they can prove that they have fully explored every other reasonable option for building the homes their communities need. There will also be stronger protections for ancient woodlands and historic coastlines.
Only 10 per cent of England has been built on and only 13 per cent is covered by Green Belt – the purpose of which is to prevent urban sprawl. The PM will be clear that developers and local authorities must only allocate Green Belt sites for development for exceptional reasons. Should development have to go ahead it must first make use of brownfield sites, and where land is removed, they must create new spaces.
These planning reforms are part of a wider package of housing reforms designed to tackle the housing shortage; including a £5Bn Housing Infrastructure Fund which has already seen £866M allocated to 133 council led projects to fund key local infrastructure including new roads, cycle paths, flood defences and land remediation work, all essential ahead of building the homes.
Source: UK Construction Media / Gov.uk