Planning for the future,’ the government’s white paper on proposed reforms to the planning system in England.
The Government has set out for consultation major proposals to reform the planning system. The White Paper is proposing that the housing provision requirements are set by a standard national method and that these requirements are binding. The implications for the Test Valley is that our housing requirement would increase by approximately 50% per year to 814 dwellings per annum. There is a risk that a national method would place considerable emphasis on nationally recognised designations such as green belts, and less on other important local designations such as local gaps.
The White Paper proposes the removal of S106 and Community Infrastructure Levy with a single Infrastructure Levy with a mandatory flat rate set nationally and reflect specific areas, which would be levied at point of occupation. There is real concern about this proposal partly because of the lack of detail in how a national rate for areas would be set and over what area. Test Valley Borough Council currently has four CIL levy rates based on land value. The concern is that to ensure viability for specific areas the levy will need to be set at the lowest rate and this would have consequences on the funds available to help deliver future infrastructure projects. It is not clear how the value relates to the cost of infrastructure and whether there will be certainty that enough funding would be available through this route, particularly when factoring in that it will cover affordable housing as well. The payment being made at occupation is not supported as this is too complex to enforce and put in place any infrastructure that may be required.
A number of major concerns have been raised with the proposed reforms and a coalition of over 40 housing, planning and environmental organisations are in opposition to the White Paper. The main concerns include loss of local democracy, housing affordability and access to green space.
Some of CPRE Hampshire concerns include:
1. Rural areas will bear the brunt
2. No account is taken of environmental constraints (e.g. National Parks, water resources, designated landscapes)
3. It doesn’t take account of the fact that one million homes, for which planning permission has already been given, have not yet been built
4. Greenfield at risk – the objective of maximising use of brownfield land is not achieved with these proposals
5. Climate Emergency
6. Removal of local decision-making
7. One size cannot fit all – each region and each district have different constraints and different growth factors
The proposals will result in some of these changes:
1. Transfer development from urban to rural areas
The proposed new standard method would shift housing numbers from the cities to the rural districts. This is not consistent with the stated aims of achieving sustainable development and maximising re-use of brownfield land. It also does not account for any constraints in terms of National Parks, other designations, nor water resources, or access to public transport hubs. In Hampshire, these are critical.
2. Make housing in Hampshire even less affordable
The algorithm used to calculate the adjustment/affordability factor creates a built-in incentive for developers to continue to build more houses at a price above the median price because this would ensure that the LPA is then required to allocate even more land for even more homes.
3. Brownfield Sites – An overwhelming flaw in the proposals is that the changes proposed are not necessary to meet the Government’s stated target. If the focus was on developing brownfield land – underused, derelict and ready to be recycled – instead of Green Belt or the countryside; there is already enough brownfield land available to meet the government’s own target to build 300,000 homes per year for the next five years. There is enough space on brownfield sites for 1.3 million homes and over half a million of these already have planning permission in place.
To help save local democracy and our ability to shape the future of where we live – please respond to the Government’s Planning White Paper by 29 October 2020, when it closes to public consultation.
You can respond in detail via the government’s online questionnaire.
The White Paper can be viewed in full at https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/planning-for-the-future
Contact your MP Kit Malthouse at firstname.lastname@example.org