Lords report backs planning strategy for housebuilding

Posted 2 August 2016 by Ben Salisbury

The Royal Town Planning Institute said it's pleased that a parliamentary report on house building supports its strategy

Five key recommendations of the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) have been included in a parliamentary report on the strategy to increase housebuilding.

The House of Lords Economic Affairs Committee’s ‘Building more homes’ final report agreed with the RPTI on five important drivers of housebuilding.

The report made recommendations on how to meet housing targets, how to manage local authority building, building on public land, planning and how to best utilise existing housing stock.

Joe Kilroy, policy officer at RTPI says: "The RTPI is pleased to see much of our evidence included in the report. The committee's conclusion that planning is not a barrier to house building should act as a clear signal that the government needs to explore policy measures other than deregulating planning that address the fundamental barriers better.”

The RTPI gave written evidence to the committee and chief executive Trudi Elliott and Professor Tony Crook provided expert oral evidence directly to the committee on the green belt and buy-to-let.

The evidence session looked at whether local authorities should be better resourced, if planning is a constraint on house building, whether starter homes should be defined as affordable housing, if local authorities are offering enough smaller sites for development in local plans and planning solutions.

Elliott and Crook argued that planning provides a key framework for building the new homes we need.

The committee also looked at the supply and the affordability of housing for private buyers, the rental sector and the social housing market across the UK and the effectiveness of government policies on the demand and supply of reasonably priced housing across the UK.

The five points that the committee agreed with the RTPI were:

  • The private sector can’t meet housing demand alone so local authorities need to play a greater role in housebuilding.
  • Local authorities and housing associations should be incentivised to build homes through a range of mechanisms, including taking a larger role in land assembly through compulsory purchase but can only do so if adequately resourced.
  • Surplus government land should be used for housing which maximises community value and government departments and agencies should dispose of it quickly to allow housebuilding to start.
  • Planning is not a barrier to housing delivery with a significant number of planning permissions granted for houses which weren’t built.
  • A land value tax is a fair way to capture land value uplift and fund infrastructure.

“Planning that coordinates development, for example by ensuring that housing development is delivered in conjunction with transport, infrastructure and other amenities that communities need and want, is much more effective at boosting housebuilding rates which will ultimately lead to more affordable housing,” adds Kilroy.

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