Posted by: Adam Roake | June 15, 2011

Good News for House Builders (sort of)

I’ve recently read two pieces, which seem to me to confirm the direction of planning and housing policy.  The first is Jim Ward’s piece on Development Land prospects in Savills Residential Property Focus, 2nd quarter.  As Jim puts it,

The downturn in construction during the last six months highlights the risk that weakness in construction could lead to a return to recession.

 

This is why coalition policy has turned so dramatically in favour of promoting growth through the planning system. The strength of government statements on this point is remarkable, signalling that many of the previously flagged features of localism will play a secondary  role in how planning operates. All of this means the new planning system is heading away from the NIMBY’s charter that had been emerging through the early stages of the Localism Bill.

Jim goes on to set out the various positive, if perhaps inadequate, steps the government has taken to encourage house building, such as the Hew Homes Bonus, FirstBuy and Community Infrastructure Levy.  He also highlights how the “general presumption in favour of sustainable development” will require Local Authorities to assess and set their own housing standards based on sound research and data (I’d give you the job Jim!) and to do it quickly, if they wish to retain control of planning decisions. 

The second is Chris Brown’s blog piece for Renewal and Regeneration.  Whilst a more negatively phrased piece than Jim’s, Chris rightly points out that the government’s current stance “…feel(s) like an organised attempt to dismantle the planning system and to allow market forces to dominate”.  Instinctively I have some sympathy Chris’s concerns that business interests will have the resources to get what they want, if the government really does dismantle planning as we know it, but until we get the detail on the National Planning Framework we cannot be sure.

DCLG have today published the long awaited definition of sustainable development or at least they say they have.  As far as I can, on a quick first reading, the document is not exactly clear on what is sustainable development but more of that when I’ve read it a second or even third time.

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Responses

  1. I have no real problem with Governement being vague on exactly what is sustainable development. It seems like a definition which I can live with and work with, so that I (we) can actually get on with things. The definition seems to reflect much of what we tried to do in Ashford’s Growth Area to make it a sustainable community. But, as you intimate, who’s detailed intepretation is used on a case-by-case basis will depend on LPAs doing (and having the resources to do) their job.


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