New national planning guidance could change the face of
Launched on 29th August, it is aimed at
streamlining the planning system, replacing 7,000 pages of current guidance
contained in over 230 separate documents.
The guidance is currently in ‘beta’ form, meaning that for
six weeks it is open for informal comment before coming into force. During this
period, the old guidance remains live.
The new guidance calls on local councils to build more
bungalows for older people, and introduces a new affordability test so that
councils can decide how many new homes should be approved by local planners.
This will be based on local house prices, private rent
levels and average local earnings. Councils would have to keep abreast of house
prices and rents and, if they rise too high, would have a duty to increase
housing supply. This could lead to more new developments, including ones that
have been previously vetoed.
Planning minister Nick Boles said more housing was needed to
make homes affordable for ordinary people.
He said: “Just as there is a legal obligation for
authorities to provide school places and healthcare to everyone who needs it,
so too they must now provide affordable homes.
“House prices are out of reach for many.”
Boles also said: “Planning shouldn’t just be the preserve of
technocrats, lawyers and council officers.
“Yet up to now even the experts have struggled to plough
through all the background documents and find the right advice.
“To be effective our planning system needs to be supported
by practical guidance that anyone can consult and follow.”
However, the proposals have not gone down well with
London Tory council Richmond said Westminster was meddling
in local government affairs. Deputy leader Nick True said: “A period of silence
from Mr Boles would be welcome.”
While some have welcomed more bungalows – last year, just
1,700 were given permission – Churchill Retirement Living condemned the plan as
Spencer McCarthy, chairman and managing director of
Churchill Retirement Living, said: “I urge the Government to abandon this crazy
proposal before it is too late.
“Bungalows waste land and eat up the Green Belt. Worst of
all, because it is virtually impossible to build bungalows near town centres,
bungalows often mean old people are abandoned in remote and inaccessible
locations – far from friends, families and loved ones.”
Guy Charrison at Network Auctions echoed these views:
“Anything that simplifies and speeds up the planning process is to be welcomed
but each scheme should be looked at on its own merit and central Government
should leave decisions as to the nature of schemes and properties to be built
to the developers and local planners and residents who will make the best
decisions based on needs and suitability.”
The planning guidance can be found at the link below.