Theresa May has given a speech to the National Planning Conference, setting out the new National Planning Policy Framework. Here’s how the sector responded:
Speaking on BBC news, Catherine Ryder, Head of Policy at the National Housing Federation, said: “The Government commitment to reforming the planning process will go a long way to help deliver the homes this country needs — but in order to build more, we need more land.”
The Joseph Rowntree Foundation has also responded, claiming that the Government’s housing plans fall short for low income families. Campbell Robb, Chief Executive, commented: “High housing costs are trapping people in poverty, but every year we’re falling short of building the low-cost rented homes we need to meet demand. It is not right that so many families are struggling to make ends meet.
“Yet the speech overlooked entirely the role central government must play in redesigning the housing market and building the affordable homes we need — private developers and local authorities cannot do this alone.
“A failure to do so will mean that many families on low incomes will miss out on the opportunity to build a decent and secure life. The forthcoming Social Housing Green Paper is an opportunity: we urge the Government to commit to building 78,000 affordable homes a year.”
Responding to the major overhaul of the National Planning Policy Framework, Richard Brown, Research Director at Centre for London, said: “Housebuilding in London has missed mayoral targets for more than 15 years, so changes that will help more homes get built are welcome.
“But today’s announcements risk missing the vital role that local authority planning departments play in unlocking development and ensuring high standards.
“London boroughs’ spending on planning and development has fallen faster than any other service area in recent years. Per capita expenditure on planning in 2017/18 budgets was 59% lower than the amount spent by councils in 2010/11.
“The reality is that budget cuts have made it hard for boroughs to invest in active master planning and community engagement.
“The draft London Plan sets out ambitious targets for building in the suburbs, yet this is where opposition to development is often greatest. If these boroughs are to deliver on their targets they will need extra capacity, as well as smarter working, to bring local residents on side and create great places.”
John Acres, President of the Royal Town Planning Institute, added: “Planners are at the forefront of delivering not just the number of houses we need, but the wider environmental, social and economic benefits of any development.
“Many factors behind the housing crisis lie outside the planning system and there are critical issues that must be addressed at larger than local level — such as the need for more cross-authority cooperation, land reform, and need to incentivise build out. We urge the Government to investigate these with the same rigour as has been applied to improving planning policy.
“The sharp focus in today’s draft on increasing housing supply and on local plans will help to speed things up and bring more certainty to the market. But questions remain whether these changes go far enough to ensure that housing is sustainably located and of sufficient quality and diversity, developed where it is needed most, supported by the necessary infrastructure, and whether authorities have the resources on the ground to deliver.”
The NFB has welcomed the review of the planning framework and welcomed its approach to local planning. Richard Beresford, Chief Executive of the NFB, said: “The Government can do more to tackle the housing crisis, but it needs the entire housing supply chain to support its drive as well as challenge its ambition.”
“We would like to see the Government more ambitious on planning reform and the green belt, but we welcome the direction the NPPF review has taken. Local government has a big part to play in enabling the right homes in the right places.”