NuGen Properties

Developers oppose proposed planning reforms

In its response to the government consultation, which closes today (2nd March 2023), the developers’ lobby group argues that the changes to national planning policy ‘actively work against’ the government’s commitment to increasing house-building.

The BPF argues that changes in how local authorities assess housing need, with councils no longer required to demonstrate a five-year housing land supply pipeline if their local plan is less than five years old, will mean there is less urgency in bringing forward residential development.

The BPF also reckons that there are ‘clear contradictions’ between the policy to focus housing delivery in 20 of the UK’s largest town and cities, and the new proposal to water down requirements for local authorities to undertake a green belt review – with most of the urban areas identified for housing growth surrounded by green belt or undeveloped land.

The BPF said that a decline in housing delivery would mean a proportionate decrease in land allocated for employment uses, which in turn would impact economic growth and productivity.

While the BPF supports areas having up-to-date local plans, it said, the current five-year cycle for plan-making means policy cannot keep pace with changes in the economy and demand for workspace. As a result, the demand for industrial and warehouse space, in particular, has been underestimated in planning policy for a decade. The BPF wants the government to introduce more strategic planning for employment space and infrastructure to get such developments brought forward in a more coordinated way.

British Property Federation chief executive Melanie Leech said: “We fully support the government’s aim to harness the planning system to increase housing delivery and drive levelling up but the proposed reforms will only create more delays and obstacles to development at a time when market conditions are already very challenging.

“The proposed changes to how local authorities assess housing need will create less urgency rather than more, and if fewer homes are delivered it follows that less land will be allocated for employment uses. In order to create communities that are truly sustainable we need a planning framework that strikes the right balance between addressing housing need at the local level, and enabling a national strategic approach to employment space and infrastructure.

“We are expecting consultations on planning for logistics space and the infrastructure levy over the course of this year, and while we are pleased to see government engaging fully with industry, the piecemeal nature of planning reform is causing further uncertainty.”

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