A couple of weeks ago we blogged about the government’s proposed changes to the planning system. The aim is to streamline housing delivery, making it quicker and easier to bring forward new developments in the places where demand for new homes is highest. Much of the discussion surrounding the white paper has so far centred on its proposals for a new approach to land categorisation, which represents a step towards a zonal planning system.
The plans have been criticised for promoting unfair distribution of housing and for killing off the appeal of urban living. This is because the algorithm (yes, another one) that sets the allocation of new development will mean more homes built in the countryside and suburbs - traditionally Conservative constituencies- while fewer will be built in towns and city centres
The reasoning behind this is that homes must be affordable and built in areas in which people want to live. Nothing to find fault with there. However, this means that more expensive areas in the south east of England are likely to get higher allocations than those in other parts of the country, which seems counter-intuitive when it’s the north of England and rural parts of the country that the government has pledged to ‘level-up’.
But wrangling over figures aside, will these proposals lead to a greater supply of affordable homes, as the Government has claimed? We think so, yes. If carried out correctly, the new planning rules will facilitate the delivery of a greater supply of affordable homes that London in particular desperately needs.
According to the white paper, the majority of new homes will be built around greater London and the South East. The number of homes built in London would nearly treble, to 93,532, and the number across the South-East as a whole would increase by 57%, to 61,000.
The other genuine positive here is that there is a specific focus on providing more homes for rent. The government is unequivocal on the importance of homeownership for first time buyers, but it’s not always possible for people to get their foot on the property ladder right away. So for the PRS to continue to grow and provide the numbers of homes that people need, the government is rightly looking at ways to provide more rental homes too.
Our major concern with these reforms is for the government to ensure that the new homes we are promised will be delivered with quality in mind. There are huge numbers of different proposals set out in the government’s white paper. It will be interesting to see how many of these survive the technical and political scrutiny, which is set to take place over the coming months.
Author : Maryanne Bowring
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