Leading land agents Aston Mead have welcomed new government planning rules designed to speed up house building under a National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF).
The new policy announced last week by Housing Secretary James Brokenshire states that a council’s local plan for its overall development strategy will become invalid if house building dips below 75% of targets.
Aston Mead Land & Planning Director Charles Hesse said: “The new framework is certainly a step in the right direction because it puts pressure on councils to keep up with their house building targets over the long term. It’s all very well local authorities paying lip-service to these objectives, but without an approach like this, there’s no way the country will achieve the Government’s aim of building 300,000 new homes in the UK per year.
“For far too long there has been a presumption against development, with planning regulations so complicated that prospective developers have come across impossible hurdles to jump at every step of the way. Either that, or the time taken for proposals to go through planning has made development in any given area unsustainable. We hope that the new policy framework will provide councils with the incentive to increase the speed of house building across the country.”
The new framework has come in for criticism from organisations like the Campaign to Protect Rural England, which claims that the rule change will make it easier for builders to put up expensive homes on green-field sites because councils will no longer be able to use the local plan as grounds for objecting to such developments.
But the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government responded to the criticisms, saying that the new policy would ensure that quality homes are built more quickly and in the right places. It also said that the new framework contained a provision for councils to block developments for a year if they were not building within the confines of the local plan.
Charles Hesse added: “The simple fact is that we are not building enough homes and they are not being built quickly enough. Even the Treasury recognise this; a recent select committee report concluded that ‘the only sustainable way to address housing market affordability, both for first-time buyers and other households, including those in the rental sector, is to significantly increase the supply of new housing’.
“So supplying new housing is unquestionably the way forward – and we hope the new framework goes some way to helping developers do precisely that.”