On Tuesday 6 March 2018 a short article was published in the Planning Officers Society News as a first response to the Draft Revised National Planning Policy Framework published by the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government earlier in the month. ...

POS supports the Government to help make the planning system facilitate the new homes and great places that our cities, towns and villages need.  Public sector planners across the country are delivering plans and planning permissions for new homes and growth. 

Planning is not the problem and the further streamlining of the draft NPPF appears very numbers driven with delivery about efficient use of land.  There is a danger we could lose key aspects that help drive high quality design, place making and quality of life - which are key for local people.

But if we are honest about it, a small number of planning authorities aren't helping facilitate new housing - sometimes for political reasons and sometimes because the skills and resources simply aren't there. 

The Housing Delivery Test would see Councils penalised for failures to build houses. But it is in most part the house building industry that build, or don't build, the homes we need. To address this we need the powers to be able to intervene in situations where land is not coming forward or sites are stalled but the announcements this week do not include this.

The strengthening of strategic planning is very much welcomed and the Statement of Common Ground will help drive joined up planning across the right places.  We are pleased to see encouragement for joint plans but this could have gone further.  The clarity on the green belt is also welcomed.

Overall, more tinkering with the planning process will not build more homes and expecting this to change the house building industry will fail. We need new laws and to be able to acquire land more cheaply so that land value increases can be used for necessary infrastructure, strong financial penalties where planning permissions are not being built, powers for Councils to intervene such as Compulsory Selling Orders, and above all a national Social Housing Building programming.

A detailed response will be submitted in due course.