Bill will slow housing say critics

Some aspects of the new housing bill have been criticised in ‘Brownfield Briefing’:

The Housing and Planning Bill is likely to slow down house building by introducing a barrage of complex new rules and regulations and developers fighting councils in the courts, warn campaigners.

Responding to publication of the Bill, Campaign to Protect Rural England head of planning Matt Thomson said the brownfield register and increased support for neighbourhood planning are welcome.

“But unfortunately the bill risks slowing down house building by introducing a barrage of complex new rules and regulations,” he said.  “If anything, decision-making will face a turbulent future as developers fight with local authorities in the courts.”

He said the Government should stop fixating on the planning system as lack of permissions is not the issue but developers not building consented homes.  “So, while a brownfield register is a very welcome move, further initiatives to deregulate planning are not going to ensure we build the affordable homes we need to tackle the housing crisis,” he said.

The Local Government Association also pointed out it isn’t the planning system that is a barrier to development.

“Planning approvals are at a 10-year high, with nine in 10 applications being granted permission,” said housing spokesman Peter BoxHe attacked the decision to remove planning controls from office to residential conversions permanent.

“This temporary policy was designed to provide a new lease of life to empty offices but some councils have reported some existing businesses being evicted so landlords can cash in on higher residential rates and sale prices,” he said.

“Not only has this led to less of some of the office space needed for economic growth it has, in some cases, seen it replaced with homes which do not meet community needs and remain unaffordable.”

He said councils are part of the solution to the housing crisis and need stronger powers.

Civic Voice meanwhile gave a cautious welcome to demands for all areas to have a local plan by 2017 but felt Government intervention would not deal with the causes such as woeful lack of capacity in planning departments and legal challenges.  “We would like to know how the Government proposes to tackle these systemic problems,” said executive director Ian Harvey.

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