Revising planning process will be a hard balancing act

Land & New Homes

Monday, September 5, 2011

Yet another change to planning policy…..

"We welcome the review of planning policy currently proposed and in particular, the aim of providing a more simplified planning system with the emphasis placed on the need to meet the growing demands of the UK's housing market.

"A simplification of the planning process is an excellent sign for the residential sector, as it should help to further boost the recovery of the new development market, which is much needed in order to meet the current shortfall of housing - particularly in the South East.

"Viability is a key factor in the long-term resurgence of the new build development market and it is encouraging that the government recognises the requirement for planning obligations that have made so many schemes unviable to be reviewed and the need to implement policies that do not inhibit the scale of growth.

"The revised planning framework proposes a presumption in favour of sustainable development in the housing sector; and encourages councils to be ambitious in delivering the volume of new homes.  However, whilst sustainability is undeniably an important issue it is also crucial that any revised planning policy also encourages the growth of new communities through measures such as increased access and connectivity to public spaces along with local support and clearly defined and cohesive goals.

Consistency in policy making is paramount.

"The localism issue has for some time now been a cause of concern and it remains to be seen what the long-term effect this will have on the planning process.

"The governments' obvious desire to simplify the process is a step in the right direction, however, in order for it to work,  it must be implemented in tandem with other measures taking into account the overall viability of key strategic development sites. A simple process bound by the same restrictions as previous frameworks would essentially be a waste of time and resource.

"The short-term impact on delivery is likely to be very challenging, as the longer-term needs of communities need to be addressed whilst also balancing volume and affordability issues.

"Most encouraging is the recognition of the continued importance of the rolling 5-year land supply requirement, which many authorities have so far failed to achieve. A consistent balance is needed between the government's localism agenda and the national need for growth.  

"In addition, the government has also stated that local communities must operate in favour of sustainable development with a key priority being to promote sustainable economic growth and employment in the region. 

"At this point, it is not clear how localism and the need for growth can be made to work effectively together.
In the short term, however many landowners and developers will be encouraged to either bring schemes forward that meet the criteria or seek to renegotiated planning consents for stalled schemes and will cite the need for growth emphasised in the draft as reasons for this.

"Much of what we see in the draft is very positive but there is still some uncertainty in the ability of the framework to sweep away a raft of establish detailed planning policy statements covering more than a thousand pages into a simple user friendly document.

"The lack of detail may give rise to issues of interpretation of policy with, for example, different views being taken on what constitutes sustainable development. 

"Whilst the objective is clear and needs to be supported, it remains to be seen if the simplification proposed leaves planners and developers with a consistent and clear view of what is to be done."

Grenville Turner, CEO, Countrywide

 

 

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