To meet ambitious homebuilding targets the process must be revampedby Bob Blackman / January 24, 2019 / Leave a comment
In the United Kingdom right now, we have an acute shortage of homes and properties which meet the demands of our population.
By homes, I mean somewhere people can lay foundations for the rest of their lives, engage with and become a member of the community, and prosper. Building communities—which include well thought through infrastructure and person-minded planning—is integral to fixing the housing crisis.
The primary areas which I feel are important if we are to resolve the housing crisis are: freeing up land for development, bolstering local authorities, and giving housing associations and developers incentives to commence building.
According to Full Fact, upwards of 88 per cent of the United Kingdom is not developed on. However, that does not automatically mean it is available for development as the law stands. Some parts of the UK are protected as part of the Green Belt: in a government report from September 2017, that land was estimated at 1.6m hectares.
I oppose ruining our beautiful countryside, of which we should be very proud. We instead need to focus building on brownfield sites and take away the perverse financial incentive of building on undeveloped land, that dramatically increases in value following the granting of planning permission.
All too often a proposed development is met with opposition from existing residents. If improvements to local infrastructure are included in the plans—paid for by the developer—would that not help those already living in the area? This would also feed into the previous point made about building communities.
Local authorities are, on the whole, staffed by good people fulfilling a variety of important roles. Planning departments are a case in point: teams with a thorough knowledge of planning legislation and building regulations, yet in a lot of cases they are simply overworked and thus they come across as harried and obtuse.
More resources should be allocated to planning and development departments at local authorities across the UK, as we cannot meet homebuilding targets if developers cannot make progress with individual local authorities. Equally, a thorough shake up of existing pathways is required as the needs of the nation exceed ideas at present.
Radical thought is sorely needed and my colleague Nick Boles—MP for Grantham and Stamfordand a former planning minister in the coalition years—repeatedly makes the case for original and new ideas when we talk about solving the…