Our Senior Partner Jamie Flatman attempts to explain why…….
Despite escalating demand for regeneration and new development to provide homes for a growing and increasingly diverse population, the planning system over the last decade seems to have become enmeshed in policy for policies sake.
Planning has become largely incomprehensible to anyone except the professionals operating within its seemingly hideous detail.
By layering strategy upon strategy Local Planning Authorities appears to have lost sight of their Statutory "Development Control" obligations to manage the delivery of housing in line with the needs of society.
This bureaucracy has culminated in some 1,300 pages of planning guidance against which planning applications can be measured.
2010 saw the lowest level of house building since 1923 at just 103,000* homes at a time when there was an existing need to build some 232,000 homes per year. 2011 again saw the lowest level of house-building since the war.
With five million people now on housing waiting lists, the Coalition Government is pushing back against this impasse with some tough new planning reform and the abolition of Regional Strategies while at the same time looking for resultant increased construction to support economic recovery and improve the environmental performance of the British housing stock
National Planning Policy Framework is being designed to work hand in glove with the Localism Act in bringing about Neighbourhood Planning and the Community Right to Build. It condenses 1,300 pages of planning guidance down to just 52 pages in a strident effort to release the planning process from the delays and frustration of bureaucracy.
The golden thread running NPPF is the presumption in favour of sustainable development and much has been made of this by critics such as the National Trust and CPRE.
In reality all of the Town and Country Planning Acts since 1947 have "presumed" in favour of development, but this seems to have been watered down by volume of policy and guidance and perhaps only remembered by those of us who have been in the industry for a while.
Critics of the emerging legislation cite the word "sustainable" at the heart of their antipathy claiming that developers will have economic rights under this phraseology to build over national treasures and monuments. In a recent interview with The Financial Times, Greg Clark the Housing Minister commented;
"The National Trust had on their website an aerial shot of Los Angeles in some risible idea that this was the future of Britain," he said "If you can square a village voting for 10 new homes for its parishioners with the sprawl of Beverly Hills or Santa Monica, I fail to see it"
In reality "sustainability" seeks to carefully balance the economic importance of planning for prosperity, the social role of planning for people and the environmental role of planning to enhance our natural, built and historic environment.
Local Plans will remain, in "Statute" the basis of the Planning system, however at the point at which NPPF comes into force it is quite probable that some 70% of Local Planning Authorities will not have an adopted Local Plan as prescribed within NPPF.
Notwithstanding this however, NPPF is expected, to differing degrees, respect the supremacy of the Local Plan whether it is in preparation or adopted, and it will be interesting to see how the transition is implemented.
Much will remain down to interpretation and to my mind there will inevitably be some Appeal cases which will test whether adopted Local Plans will be overridden by the NPPF default position of saying "yes" to development.
The Coalition will be monitoring closely its key objective which is to increase the supply of new homes by increasing land supply while at the same time delivering homes that people want and need. They are also seeking to widen home ownership and create opportunity for more regeneration and renewal.
As an industry we remain optimistic that this move to meet housing demand, will further stimulate the market, improve the economy by "building" our way out of recession and encourage the lending institutions to re-enter the marketplace and enable more home ownership.
If you own land you consider may be suitable for development or which you would like re-appraised in the light of changing legislation please call for a free consultation or email Land, Development and Localism 2011
* Source - the House Building Federation
Jamie Flatman 2012
A timely opportunity to buy a small manageable development site just as the development industry is starting to rekindle its interest in land acquisition, hopefully a precursor to the start of a period of economic growth.
A speculative development, or other land driven opportunity, comprising a detached bungalow with a former orchard to the rear.
Situated opposite the village pond, a good sized level single building plot with detailed planning permission for a two storey, cottage style detached home with a gross internal area of approximately 103 square metres (1,113 square feet).