The Government has proposed sweeping reforms to the planning system including:
* Automatic planning permission on all suitable brownfield (former industrial) sites, removing unnecessary delays
* Power for the Government to intervene and have local plans drafted when councils fail to produce them and penalties for those that make 50 per cent or fewer planning decisions on time
* Stronger compulsory purchase powers to bring forward more brownfield land, and devolution of planning powers to the Mayors of London and Manchester
* Major infrastructure projects which include housing development to be fast-tracked
* End the need for planning permission for upwards extensions for a limited number of storeys up to the height of the adjoining building in London
* Higher-density development around key commuter hubs
* Redefining “affordable housing” to include discounted market housing, i.e. starter homes.
CPRE Kent response:
CPRE Kent agrees that we need to build more homes, especially affordable homes.
In 2012-13, the UK hit a post-war low of 135,500 homes. Last year the figure recovered slightly to 141,000 homes.
However we know there are existing sites with planning permission for thousands of homes in Kent and elsewhere and we believe more should be done to actually get these homes built. Too many companies are landbanking (the practice of buying land as an investment, holding it for future use or selling it on with permission but without specific plans for homes to be constructed – i.e land trading). There should be measures put into place to make them actually deliver these new homes within a certain time.
We have long been calling for better use for brownfield sites and are glad the government is backing this. However there still needs to be local consideration about sustainability and infrastructure and which sites are suitable for housing development. CPRE believes there should be a strong presumption in favour of “brownfield first” with these safeguards.