Planning Reform: supporting the high street and increasing the delivery of new homes
28 January 2019
As someone of diminutive* stature, I am well aware that when shopping for clothes, one size well and truly doesn’t fit all. It is a similar approach when looking at solving the country’s housing crisis. For a problem that has been decades in the making and will take many years to solve, there isn’t one single solution and a more tailored approach is required.
However, for a number of years now our tailoring has been more like tinkering, leading to piecemeal change and not overall reform. A problem is identified and a solution proposed. Amendments are laid, legislation changed, regulations updated, but time after time, we find ourselves back where we were before. Tinkering not solving.
A three pronged approach to housing
At London First we have distilled the key solutions into three more manageable chunks:
More money – last year we published a report that found that if the Government is to build 300,000 homes a year it needs to find £67.6 billion, a nearly £20 billion shortfall from the public and private money spent at the moment.
More land – including greater flexibility on the green belt.
Better ways of building – such as rethinking our approach to density.
It is within this context that we viewed the recent consultation from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) – Planning Reform: Supporting the high street and increasing the delivery of new homes.
The changing face of retail
We feel that the Town and Country Planning (Use Classes) Order 1987 (as amended) (hereafter referred to as the Use Classes Order) requires a more fundamental overhaul than considered in the consultation, particularly in relation to retail and commercial uses to better reflect how these sectors have evolved. This consultation misses an opportunity to have a more thorough look at how we can support our high streets and increase the delivery of new homes, in the right places, across the country.
We support the use of upward extensions on existing buildings to provide a valuable contribution towards such densification, and believe that local authorities are best placed, through their Local Plans to identify the most appropriate locations for the delivery of new homes.
However, we acknowledge that local authorities face numerous challenges to increasing density. Rather than tinkering with the Use Classes Order, MHCLG should, instead, be working with local authorities to help them develop the tools, that will enable them to work in partnership with their local communities and developers to deliver new homes.
*And if you are wondering, taller than the average 12 year old, shorter than Kylie.
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