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Planning for the right homes in the right places

TGKP added its voice to the many urging Government to re-think its proposals for changes to the planning system to increase the amount of land earmarked for new housing.

In September the Government published "Planning for the right homes in the right places: consultation proposals".  This proposed a new standard methodology for assessing housing need, a new ‘statement of common purpose’ to strengthen the duty to cooperate, a more transparent approach to testing viability, and proposed changes to planning fees and neighbourhood planning. 

Waterstone ParkTGKP supports many of the principles contained in these proposals, but there are fundamental flaws in the policy approach which are likely to reinforce the national imbalance in housing markets rather than help to remedy them.

The increase in new homes that would have to be planned for - over 33% extra across North Kent on top of the ambitious growth already planned - does not look sustainable, especially when account is taken of the additional infrastructure needed and the potential environmental impacts. 

At the same time as proposing steep increases in housing numbers in the South of England, the Government's formula would lead to a reduction in new homes planned for in the North and Midlands - despite having an emerging Industrial Strategy that aims to boost economic growth and productivity in these regions.

In a letter to Sajid Javid, the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, TGKP's Chief Executive, Matthew Norwell, wrote:

"Disappointingly, the consultation paper is predicated on the misplaced assumption that an ever increasing supply of land identified for housing will, of itself, generate a step change in the volume of housebuilding across the country with the result that house prices will reduce significantly.  There is no evidence to suggest that the housebuilding industry would, nor necessarily could, deliver this outcome, and the measures proposed in the consultation paper do not make it more likely."

At the same time as re-thinking its approach, TGKP urged the Government to focus attention on other areas to help address the housing crisis:

  • tackling land-banking;
  • incentivising developers to deliver build-out rates following the grant of planning consent;
  • help for smaller developers to stimulate more competition and better quality;
  • alternative models of funding and investment to unlock access to development finance for a range of housing tenures;
  • review local authorities' powers to act as enablers of sustainable development beyond their planning functions.

TGKP is asking the Government to start a new kind of conversation about how the development industry, financial institutions and the public sector and national and local level can work together to address the inter-related issues of housing, infrastructure and economic growth.

The full text of TGKP's response can be read here