The HBF Planning Conference took place at Austin Court in Birmingham and was well attended with over 130 delegates present to listen to our expert industry speakers.
The planning system is presenting a “very mixed” picture in its effectiveness on a local level, Simon Gallagher, director of planning for the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, said today (September 17).
Speaking at the HBF Planning Conference in Birmingham, Gallagher said that MHCLG had been “doing a lot of listening” to the industry’s experiences of the National Planning Policy Framework that it refreshed last year.
Although it had heard positive accounts of new schemes coming forward and more plans being put in place since the changes, MHCLG had also been told of local authorities offering poor customer service and “cases where a lot of red tape is tying up permissions,” Gallagher said.
“The overall story here is that the core development management system isn’t delivering in local government. There is a very mixed story on planning.”
While acknowledging that improvement was needed, Gallagher cautioned against hasty change when planning policies were still being brought forward.
He highlighted three areas MHCLG was addressing, firstly stressing the importance of the upcoming Housing Delivery Test results – an annual measurement of local authorities’ housing delivery – which would show local authorities “the consequences of not creating a good environment for development.”
The second measure was the government’s work on design through its Building Better, Building Beautiful Commission which released an interim report in the summer. “My plea [to the industry] is that this really matters. Better design means better trust in development. There’s good stuff out there. The bad stuff makes people lose trust.”
And MHCLG was preparing its planning green paper, which Gallagher said would be published “before the end of the year.” The paper is set to address ways to accelerate the planning system.
But he stressed: “I don’t want faster to mean just cutting out stages. We need to make sure this leads to a swifter system.”
At the same time, he said ministers were fully aware “that we’re not getting the system right.”
Also speaking at the conference, Lin Cousins, director of Three Dragons, explored planning of large developments. “I think housing delivery is becoming increasingly reliant on large developments, producing new challenges. I’m not sure we’re getting to grips with them yet," she said.
Three Dragons undertook research for the Royal Town Planning Institute revealing a ten-year time lag between the formal plan for a large scale scheme and its first completions. “This is too long.”
And Vicky Evans, associate director – planning policy and economics of Arup, looked at the impact of modern methods of construction on the planning system. “Some people in planning ask: ‘What’s in it for us? The obvious benefit is speed of delivery," she said.
But, for the public to gain confidence in MMC, “it needs to establish itself as a long term solution.”
Also at the conference, DAC Beachcroft launched a research report - Planning Conditions and Their Impact on Housing Supply: Conversations with Homebuilders, revealing that 81% of housebuilders wish to see a cap on the number of planning conditions imposed by local authorities.
Undertaken by the University of Reading’s professor Michael Ball, the research explores the attitudes of the UK’s largest developers towards planning conditions. It also considers whether the application of conditions is a necessary part of the planning framework, “or an unnecessary hurdle which is hindering the nation’s housebuilding efforts.”
DAC Beachcroft’s publication shows that 88% of respondents said slow action by local authorities had delayed housebuilding. And 81% stated that condition-related delays were reducing their building rates below desired targets.
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|Robert Gooda & Graham Norton Robert Gooda||Download Presentation|
|Andrew Morgan & Professor Michael Ball Andrew Morgan||Download Presentation|
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