Updated Jan 13, 2022

Planning reform delays impacting on house building

According to a publication from the House of Lords Built Environment Committee, entitled meeting housing demand, delays to the reform of the planning system is having a negative effect on housebuilding.

The Government launched a consultation on its ideas for reforming the planning system in August 2020. The Planning for the Future document suggested, amongst other things, that local plans could be re-drafted or re-made to divide local authority land into three areas - growth, renewal and protected areas.

However, when Michael Gove became the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities in September 2021, one of his first acts in the role was to suspend planning reforms to allow time for concerns raised by MPs could be addressed. The House of Lords Committee is now suggesting that "Uncertainty about the future planning system and delays to planning reforms have had a ‘chilling effect’ on housebuilding and created uncertainty for housebuilders and planners."

The Committee recommends that "The Government needs to set out its strategy for the planning system. This should include clear proposals on local plans, infrastructure funding and land availability. These changes should be for the long term."

Their report also notes that since 2010, spending on planning has fallen by 14.6% which is causing "delays, issues with recruitment, and staff shortages in many authorities". The report continues to state "Any new planning system will only work if local planning authorities have the resources and staff to implement it. We recommend that local planning authorities should be enabled to recover more of their costs through planning fees to relieve the crisis in funding. We also suggest a proposal for building more homes on land around railway stations and raise concerns about delays caused by the way Section 106 Agreements operate in practice, including the impact on SME housebuilders."

Baroness Neville-Rolfe DBE CMG, chair of the House of Lords Built Environment Committee, suggested that if the Government wants to meet its target of 300,000 new homes per year, it needs to remove barriers for house building and also reform the planning system to ensure local plans are made. Essential to the success of planning reforms is ensuring that local planning authorities "have the resources and staff to implement it."

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