Planning reforms provide golden opportunity to build much needed homes
Written by Scott Buckler   
Wednesday, 07 September 2011 14:41

The Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH) is broadly in favour of the draft National Planning Policy Framework, which sets out a simpler and consolidated approach to planning, and which directly seeks to tackle the huge challenges around housing supply and affordability


Grainia Long, CIH interim chief executive, said: “Over the last thirty years the failure to build the homes we need has left this country with a housing crisis which has resulted in a shortage of 142,000 homes every year.

The housing crisis is not new, but the proposed draft national planning policy framework provides a golden opportunity to provide part of the solution. The government has recognised that something has to be done to simplify the planning process and we applaud this. The reforms to planning will allow more homes to be built giving the thousands of people, who do not currently have one, a decent place to live.”

She said: “The draft National Planning Policy Framework is clear in its aims; it wants to provide freedom for every community to have the homes that they need. But to make this work, Local Authorities must take the lead in driving this forward; they must engage with residents and decide when to make the case for new housing that helps local people and economies.”

The framework seeks to make it easier to get homes built, which gives a great opportunity for a general increase in the amount of new homes in the right places. There is a real imperative for strong local authority leadership to ensure effective approaches to planning at the local level. Being firm and clear in the identification of land will enable widespread fears about development in unsuitable areas – such as the green belt - to be allayed.

Furthermore it provides Local Authorities with the flexibility to be creative and affords choice in how they offer housing – from using existing properties which are empty, to being able to meet the demand for smaller houses by building one bedroom homes.

The framework is underpinned by the need for Local Authorities to produce a robust and strategic single Local Plan, supported by detailing what development they expect to see in those areas.  Robustly assessing local housing need and identifying the mix and type of housing needed in local areas will be vital.

It is also very clear that any new developments will need to ensure they are socially, environmentally and economically sustainable, that they should reflect local character and respect the historic and natural environment and that designated green belt areas are protected.  The framework stresses the importance of the Green Belt and associated protections for Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) and environmental areas and these will be picked up in Local Plans.   

Grainia Long, CIH interim chief executive, said: “The benefit of providing people with decent housing has wide spread benefits throughout our society and for the economy.  House building is currently at its lowest peacetime levels since 1924, if we do not do something to reverse this trend the impact will be far further afield than just a shortage of houses.

We urge the government to deliver the National Planning Policy Framework, but we also want them to address our concerns around the capacity and willingness of communities to take control for neighbourhood planning, and to articulate more clearly the role of local councils and councillors in leading the planning process.”

Source: CIH

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Last Updated on Wednesday, 07 September 2011 14:43

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