The “broken housing market” has been cited as the biggest obstacle to economic progress in the UK in a new Housing White Paper from the Department for Communities and Local Government. The current planning system is hindering growth – and change is needed.
To encourage sustainable growth of housing stock, local authorities must be given the resources required to improve the planning process. This year there will be a 20% increase in planning fees, and possibly a further 20% increase for high performing authorities. However, unless these additional funds are used to improve local authority planning services, the delivery of new homes and sustainable development will continue to be hindered by inefficient decision making processes.
The White Paper states that the Government will discuss options available for creating a more standardised approach for the assessment of new housing requirements. Also, Local Plans will be reviewed every five years to ensure that adequate housing is being developed.
The goal is to simplify the process for assessing housing needs across the country by standardising methods across all local authorities. There is also a need to assess housing land supply annually, and improve communication between authorities, developers and infrastructure providers to fully understand both what is needed and what can be achieved with the resources available.
The White Paper also highlights the need to maintain protection of the Green Belt, but to provide opportunities to amend Green Belt boundaries when all there are no options for further development within existing housing locations and brown field sites. The Secretary of State has already adopted this approach for the Birmingham Plan.
Finally, the White Paper proposes that in cases where Green Belt boundaries are modified for the purposes of housing development, there should be compensatory measures to balance this loss by improving access to green spaces and the countryside for the greater enjoyment of the wider public.
These changes will help boost housing stock by increasing the approval of new developments, which is great news for property investors.