Industry reacts to prime minister's proposed planning overhaul



Theresa May has announced a major overhaul to the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) to help deliver more housing.

The planning reforms centre on maximising the use of land, strengthening protections for the green belt and putting more emphasis on converting planning permissions into homes.

It is the first major overhaul of the NPPF in six years and provides a comprehensive approach for planners, developers and councils to build more homes, more quickly, in the places where people want to live.

Councils and developers will also be required to work with community groups to ensure those impacted by new developments will have a say on how they will look and feel.

“This government is rewriting the rules on planning,” said the prime minister.

“The reforms driven forward under our last prime minister led to a great and welcome increase in the number of planning permissions granted.

“But we did not see a corresponding rise in the number of homes being built.”

The overhaul will include:

  • Local authorities will have a new housing delivery test focused on increasing the numbers of homes delivered in their area, rather than numbers planned for, and developers to be held to account for delivering the commitments
  • more freedom for local authorities to make the most of existing brownfield land and greater flexibility to extend upwards on existing blocks of flats and houses as well as shops and offices
  • ensuring developments result in a net gain to the environment where possible
  • delivering more affordable homes that meet the housing needs of everyone, including sites dedicated to first-time buyers, build-to-rent homes with family-friendly tenancies, guaranteed affordable homes for key workers and adapted homes for older people
  • introducing new quality standards
  • encouraging local authorities to work together and continue to close the gap between planning permissions granted and homes built, as well as a new standardised approach to assessing housing need.

Industry reacts

Stuart Law, CEO at Assetz Capital, said the proposed increase in planning power for councils was a step forward, but felt there was still ambiguity around making local communities part of the planning process.

“What is most encouraging is that a standardised national approach to measuring housing affordability in each local authority area is being proposed, which in turn drives support for planning permissions.

“This could work very well if implemented and policed carefully.

“It’s vital that the government’s commitment to tackling the housing crisis doesn’t get watered down for the sake of offering a small olive branch to core voters.”

Adam Jaffe at Investec Structured Property Finance felt that issues such as land banking and planning delays had been prevalent for many years and required direct action to make a difference.

“The government can legislate to help these processes, but real change has to come from within the industry itself. 

“Working together with government is the only way to create the housing supply that is so needed.”

Ed Cooke, CEO at Revo – the organisation which represents the UK’s retail property sector – added: “Revo wholeheartedly supports the government and wider industry in its efforts to meet the clear housing requirement across the UK; but as we've said before, these efforts should not be rushed at the expense of taking a holistic, long-term approach that ensures we are delivering sustainable, well-equipped developments that nurture community and meet the everyday needs of residents, as well as businesses supporting the local economy.

“Jobs, retail, leisure and neighbourhood facilities, underpinned by strong infrastructure, are all part of this debate and we can’t make the mistake of overlooking these elements for short-term gain.”

Richard Beresford, chief executive of the National Federation of Builders, felt the government could still do more to tackle the housing crisis.

“We would like to see the government [be] 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.”

A consultation has been launched to give everyone the opportunity to offer their views on proposals for the future of planning and will run until Thursday 10th May.


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