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Responses to Michael Gove’s speech on planning reform

People have been quick to respond to yesterday’s speech by the Levelling up, Housing and Communities Secretary, Michael Gove – the full text can be found here – at the Royal Institute of British Architects which introduced us to, amongst other things – a new National Planning Policy Framework

Here we print a collection of responses, from the Chair of the LUHC Committee, housing spokesperson for the Local Government Association and The Chartered Institute of Housing’s director of policy and external affairs.

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Clive Betts, Chair of the Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (LUHC) Committee, said: ‘We have a national shortage of housing in England but the Secretary of State’s speech today didn’t provide clarity on how we are to achieve the national housing target of building 300,000 net new homes per year by the mid-2020s. For all the talk of getting tough with local authorities, without mandatory local housing targets, it’s not clear how many houses will need to be built in local areas to deliver the national target.

‘Often objections to developments are about concerns of a lack of infrastructure – are there enough schools, GPs, parks, and recreation spaces to help support the residents of new homes? The Secretary of State didn’t spell out any plans to bring forward this investment in local services and amenities or how it would be paid for.

‘The 35% urban uplift figure is apparently arbitrary, not calculated based on local housing need in the areas where it applies, and the Government has failed to take the opportunity today to spell out how this will deliver more housing.

‘Councils are hit by a range of financial pressures and there is a pressing need for additional resources for local planning authorities to ensure the planning system works efficiently. The Government must ensure local planning authorities have the investment and specialist skills to help speed up the planning process.’

Cllr Darren Rodwell, housing spokesperson for the Local Government Association, said: ‘People want their local area to have high-quality affordable homes built in the right places, supported by the right infrastructure, and councils stand ready to government tackle local housing challenges.

‘This is best achieved through a local planning system with public participation at its heart. So we are pleased government has confirmed that housing targets will become an advisory starting point which will take into account local circumstances.

‘The reality is that planning is not a barrier to house building. Nine in 10 planning applications are approved by councils despite significant resourcing and capacity issues across the country.

‘In order to help increase the speed of local plan-making and housing delivery, we urge the Government to bring forward consultations on a revised National Planning Policy Framework and National Development Management Policies which will form the backbone of a new style of plan-making due in Autumn 2024.’

The Chartered Institute of Housing’s director of policy and external affairs James Prestwich also commented on the announcements saying: ‘Whilst we are pleased to see today’s publication of the long awaited revised National Planning Policy Framework the measures announced today fall some way short of the action needed to address the national housing crisis. Requiring local authorities to have an up to date plan in place is a step in the right direction, but relaxing national planning targets undermines its impact and will hamper efforts to build the homes, and particularly the homes for social rent, the country desperately needs. Clarity, consistency and support in the system are what is urgently needed. With gaps in skills, capacity, and resources, in planning teams the government needs a plan to support planning teams as enablers to development.

‘We urge all political parties to commit to recognising housing as a foundation for creating healthy and sustainable communities and as a central part of national and regional infrastructure planning, matched by proper levels of funding to build the truly affordable housing we urgently need to see.’



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