SWTC response to Government consultation on changes to the planning system

The Ministry of Housing Communities and Local Government is consulting on proposed changes to the planning system. The changes proposed are: 

  • changes to the standard method for assessing local housing need
  • securing of First Homes through developer contributions in the short term until the transition to a new system
  • supporting small and medium-sized builders by temporarily lifting the small sites threshold below which developers do not need to contribute to affordable housing
  • extending the current Permission in Principle to major development

SWTC objects to the proposed changes, broadly because they seek to add density of housing without considering whether local infrastructure can accommodate it, they prioritise First Homes over other types of affordable housing, which is potentially discriminatory, they reduce requirements for developers to deliver our much-needed affordable housing, and they remove the potential for local oversight and scrutiny of development.

The Government has an ambition of delivering 300,000 new homes per year to address national housing affordability issues. We believe that the changes proposed will not achieve this because while they would increase the number of (worse) permissions granted, they still don't contain any mechanisms to make developers actually deliver on their permissions. This would sustain the current market model which drip feeds new builds into the market at a rate calculated to sustain current prices - which in Uttlesford are currently 13.54 times the average Uttlesford earnings. While SWTC recognises the need for more housing and does not object to the principle of development, we do object to randomly allocated development which is not designed to meet local need and fails to provide infrastructure and affordable housing, and which is contrary to the need for proper strategic and sustainable planning policies.

Read our full response here:

External links:

Government consultation on changes to the current planning system

Office for National Statistics dataset on house prices to earnings

Sir Oliver Letwin's final report on how to close the significant gap between housing completions and the amount of land allocated or permissioned.

The Raynsford Review of Planning

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Posted on 30/09/2020