Tuesday, 20 October 2020

‘Force developers to deliver housing with planning permission’

‘Force developers to deliver housing with planning permission’

THE Henley Society has criticised the Government’s proposed reform of the planning system.

A White Paper launched in August suggests streamlining the process in order to accelerate the delivery of new homes.

It is the latest in a series of reforms to the planning system as part of the Government’s drive to build more homes.

In 2017, it committed to delivering 300,000 new homes every year but so far has failed to deliver the numbers.

The reforms have been welcomed by developers but criticised by countryside organisations and councils.

Julian Brookes, an executive member of the Henley Society, a heritage organisation, said: “If 300,000 is the right target, then the present planning system requires tuning rather than significant changes with overly simplistic algorithms. It cannot be achieved by imposing an increase on local planning authorities. Developers will not build if they see weakness in sales or pricing.

“Any target requires push and pull. In this case there is the push on the planning authorities but no essential pull on the developers to build in the quantities called for.”

Mr Brookes said the White Paper missed the opportunity to address the lack of social and affordable housing, pointing out that 266,000 dwellings that were granted planning permission between 2011 and 2016 had not been built and the permissions had now expired.

He said that developers with planning permission for homes should be made to deliver. Mr Brookes, a former Henley Conservative mayor, suggested how the Government could achieve its 300,000 target.

He said: “Enforce the law and compel the 50 per cent of local planning authorities to produce a local plan.

“The 50 per cent who do have a plan provide 187,000 dwellings per annum. Doubling the number with a local plan may not result in provision for 374,000 dwellings but it will make a huge dent in your target.

“Expedite and ensure that the 1,000,000 dwellings currently with planning permission are built. There are numerous examples we are happy to bring to your attention of developers pausing or postponing their permitted housebuilding. Investigate why the 266,000 dwellings granted permission were not built and act on the findings.

“Increase the percentage of affordable and social housing. The proposal to increase the small site threshold will decrease the current percentage of affordable homes being built.

“Produce actions and legislation to ensure that strategic sites allocated in local plans are brought forward in a timely manner.”

Henley MP John Howell has defended the proposed reforms, saying critics lack vision for the country’s housing needs.

He said: “We have to ensure that new homes, businesses and vital infrastructure are not held back by outdated, complicated and time-consuming bureaucracy.

“It currently takes an average of five years for an application for residential development to go through the planning system before building can even begin. This cannot be right for our communities who want homes to live in, places to work and school and hospitals built.”

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