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The ‘planning revolution’ in house building

  • by JW

Balancing demands for radical change and fears of uncontrolled development


East Devon is about to refuse to take responsibility for providing most of Exeter’s housing needs:

East Devon set to reject Greater Exeter Strategic Plan – analysis – Vision Group for Sidmouth

However, there is a conflict between local analysis of ‘housing needs’:

The housing supply needed for East Devon – Vision Group for Sidmouth

And the government’s push for more housing:

New housing to get ‘automatic’ permission – Vision Group for Sidmouth

Turning shops and offices into ‘tiny homes’ – Vision Group for Sidmouth

There is quite a lot of opposition gathering, however:

Ministers ignored ‘slums of the future’ warnings, says adviser – BBC News

RIBA calls for “urgent reconsideration” of proposals to deregulate planning

Boris Johnson cries ‘nimbyism’, but his planning changes will be disastrous | Simon Jenkins | Opinion | The Guardian

Interestingly, a piece in the i-newspaper points to this very contradiction:

Boris Johnson’s Government has long walked a tricky tightrope: on the one hand the Prime Minister and those around him are hungry for radical change in the UK, on the other they rely on the support of the traditional Tory shires whose residents tend to oppose rapid upheavals.

The new planning regime is a vivid demonstration of this. No 10 is trying to turbocharge housebuilding in order to fix a broken market, but ministers are distinctly wary of being seen to give the green light to uncontrolled growth which cannot be held back by local residents.

The overarching principle is to move from a veto-based system to a rules-based one: local councils will set the guidelines for development in their area, including designating how much building is allowed in each neighbourhood, but will no longer make the final decision over individual planning applications.

That appears to be an attempt to tackle the “not in my back yard tendency”, where many people say they support the building of new homes in theory but in practice oppose any developments proposed near them. Nonetheless, Downing Street is adamant that using more digital technology will in fact make planning more democratic rather than less as local residents can put their views across easily and monitor the progress of applications…

The political danger for Mr Johnson is underlined by the fact that his “planning revolution” was not mentioned in the Conservative election manifesto, which only pledged to protect the green belt. It may also be no coincidence that the reforms were announced in the dog days of August, when most of Westminster is on holiday.

Conservatives walk a fine line on housing reform as free-market instincts clash with interests of leafy shire towns


Here’s more on the government’s proposals from the i-newspaper:

Planning rules explained: Full details of Government housing ‘revolution’ designed to speed up building new homes


Finally, again from the i, it is clear that there will be huge pressures on local authorities to ‘build, build, build’ – and to what extent this affects the Greater Exeter Strategic Plan is unclear:

All councils will have to come up with a plan to build more homes in their area under a Government shake-up of the planning system which will force every local authority to designate land for fast-tracked building.

The proposals are intended to speed up the planning process and support small building firms – but risk a backlash from conservation groups which fear uncontrolled development in areas of high demand and a possible loss of wildlife. No 10 officials insist that local residents will retain an effective veto over individual developments, with new technology such as digital maps introduced to help people track applications more closely.

The Conservatives have launched some form of planning reform or housebuilding project almost every year since they took power in 2010. There have been 10 housing ministers in that time…

Every council must produce plan to build more homes under Government’s latest shake-up of planning regime