'Labour must be bold if 200,000 homes a year dream is to come true'
Published by Max Salsbury for 24dash.com in Central Government and also in Development, Housing, Regulation
A review of green belt policy and a more streamlined planning process will be required if a future Labour government is to achieve the party's target of building 200,000 homes a year by 2020, the British Property Federation has claimed.
In response to the party’s investigation into curing the UK's housing crisis - the Lyons Review - the BPF has said that for the target to be met, every housing tenure will need to be “firing on all cylinders” and politicians will have to avoid fiscal or regulatory "policy surprises" that could hurt sentiment towards the sector or damage the confidence of investors.
Reacting to party leader Ed Miliband's suggestion that those who 'landbank' should face a 'use it or lose it' policy, the BPF has urged the Lyons Review to question the scale of the landbanking problem first, and to identify and address where delays in the planning system are caused before implementing such legislation.
The BPF says that the planning system has already been designed to prevent hoarding, as planning permissions are most commonly limited to either three or five years, and that a lengthy planning process is often necessary in order to achieve the best outcome for developers and communities.
The federation recommends a more streamlined process which it says will assist the ability for developers to move forward promptly with development. It claims that there is some merit in the review and reform of the compulsory purchase system, as better and greater use of CPO powers would allow local authorities to capture the land value in situations where schemes are stagnating without good reason.
And the BPF also argues that it is time for a review of green belt policy. It supports the policy aims of preventing urban sprawl and protecting the countryside from encroachment but wants to make sure that the green belt is "first and foremost a planning policy not an environmental designation policy".
Liz Peace, BPF chief executive, said: “The introduction of the NPPF has widely been considered a beneficial replacement to the previous reams of planning policy, guidance and advice, and we would therefore welcome some continuity in this area. The current system is not perfect, but reassurance that existing planning guidance is not going to be ripped up and started over again would be welcome, so that we can continue to further improve the framework that we are currently working with.
“Our key focus is land - how to get it released across local authority boundaries, how to ensure brownfield land is viable, and to pose the question whether green belt policy is always being used appropriately. We need to question whether local council and communities have sufficient incentive to release land, and a need to rekindle the garden city spirit and measures, which did so much to release land in the post-war era.”