More finger pointing, more claims that it’s not us, it’s the planners holding things up and claims from the developers that even though they’ve got their planning permission, the planners make it too difficult to get on with the job.
Sadly, the politicians often listen to this whinging and whining, taking it at face value and rejigging the planning regs repeatedly to accommodate it. The worst example of this is the viability card played by virtually every developer within weeks of gaining permission and used to wriggle out of providing affordable housing, or infastructure improvements.
Not content with having this ace in their pack, the developers were able to get the government to put out further guidance, effectively telling councils not to challenge a developer’s viability claims. Despite having such an unlevel planning field, with everything tilted in their favour, developers continue to cry foul at every opportunity and the government continues to listen.
The new prime minister, Theresa May, has signalled her intention to deal with the “housing deficit” – the year-after-year shortfall in the number of homes that are built compared with the number of homes that are needed. The government’s target is to build 1 million new homes by 2020, the equivalent of 200,000 a year. Many housing economists think that England needs at least 250,000 new homes a year to keep up with demand. Neither of these targets are being met: last year (2014/15) only 155,000 new-builds were completed.
In order to tackle the shortfall it will first be necessary to correctly identify the obstacles. For many years it has been claimed that the planning system is a major barrier to progress on the grounds that it is slow and cumbersome in issuing planning permissions. This briefing note seeks to explain why this is not, in fact, the main…
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