Tuesday, 03 March 2015

Planners hit back at countryside campaigners

The chief executive of the Town and Country Planning Association and a government minister have criticised opponents of new planning rules.

Get on our land

Kate Henderson speaking at a fringe session of the Conservative Party conference in Manchester on Sunday, said much of the debate around the national planning policy framework is polarised.

Ms Henderson said: ‘What we have seen over the last weeks and months is a very polarised debate about the future of planning and what that should be.

‘Most notably the Daily Telegraph campaign Hands off our land, and that’s reflecting an emotion but its not going to help people who desperately need houses.’

She said there is a need for a much more sophisticated debate around planning.

Bob Neill, local government minister, echoed Ms Henderson’s concerns, saying there is a need for a sensible debate and described the controversy around the NPPF as ‘unfortunate’.

Mr Neill criticised reports that the NPPF will threaten the green belt, saying it will protect it.

He said: ‘The people who were going to build on the green belt were the previous government. John Prescott’s green belt strategies removed green belt protection.’

The NPPF has proved controversial with campaign groups, including the National Trust and the Campaign to Protect Rural England. Campaigners fear the framework, which simplifies planning rules and contains a presumption in favour of sustainable development, will threaten the countryside.

Inside Housing’s Get on our land campaign is calling for more public land to be made available for development

Readers' comments (8)

  • Jon H

    Some of the national trusts best 'attractions' are based around a big house or something of the likes!

    There entire ethos is to preserve......oh yeh, development! they need to go back to the drawing board and realise that without development, the national trust wouldnt even exist.

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  • Gavin Rider

    "Campaigners fear the framework, which simplifies planning rules and contains a presumption in favour of sustainable development, will threaten the countryside."

    Wrong - we KNOW it threatens the countryside.

    The idea behind the NPPF is to promote more development activity to stimulate the economy, it is not to help those who "desperately need houses" or any other similarly misinformed and distracting twaddle.

    Development is not stalled because of the complexity of the planning system, it is stalled because developers are sitting on their land banks waiting for the time to be ripe to maximise the profits they can extract from their assets.

    Removing planning restrictions that currently prevent developers from building on farmland and other open countryside will simply provide a profits boost to those developers, who will be able to maximise the almost instant returns they can get from building on cheap land rather than having to clean up the brownfield sites they should be developing but are refusing to.

    The NPPF has nothing to do with satisfying housing need and everything to do with allowing developers to build where they currently are not allowed to, so they can make bigger profits.

    It is the equivalent of selling off the family silver to pay the gas bill. It is not sustainable.

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  • Gavin Rider

    I see that nobody on Inside Housing has yet picked up on the fact that under the NPPF, "exception site policy" (which currently allows the construction of "much needed" rural Affordable Housing adjacent to established communities with infrastructure and services available) will be changed to allow the construction of open market housing instead?

    In fact, there will be no such thing as an "exception site" any more because everywhere will be covered by a presumption in favour of what the NPPF vaguely describes as "sustainable" development.

    Given that developers already moan that the requirement for them to deliver a fixed percentage of Affordable Housing as part of approved housing developments makes those developments uneconomic, how much Affordable Housing is now likely to be built on these sites that were previously only allowed to contain Affordable Housing, but now can contain "executive" homes instead?

    The DCLG recently held a few consultation workshops, for planning officers and others to give feedback on the proposals. At one of these the planning officer for Milton Keynes, where the Council is strongly in favour of development, said that in his opinion the NPPF would lead to "pepper pot" development taking place randomly, instead of having it undertaken in a systematic and organised way through proper planning.

    This cannot be a good way forward for anyone other than opportunists.

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  • absolutely - some of these busy body charitable organisations are living in the past. Society changes and unless we change will be left in a time warp of high land and development costs and no way to meet the gap between demand and supply of homes. But of course we need to take care about damaging the environment or putting cost on future generations. I think the new reforms/simplification of planning law coupled with initiatives in bringing back empty homes, brownfield sites, underoccupation, new homes bonus, etc, etc, show a reforming government which in time will be seen as having delivered significant numbers and also culture change.

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  • Sean Farley

    Building homes on brownfield sites costs a lot of money. Gavin you say developers have to do this but refuse to. If the homes are economically viable they will be built. But if the cost of finance, land remediation, building and marketing add up to more than the sale cost they wont get built. Its very simple. The most affordable homes will be built on farmland because the costs are lower. Affordable applies to the supply side as well, in the real world.

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  • Tories have never been interested in Social Housing and are heavily influenced by thier developer donors. If this isn't true, why then is there no mention of the huge amounts of land being land banked by private sector interests and why are there thousands of planning permissions for private sector development yet to be started? And why is inside housing campaigning only to build on public sector land. Lets build houses for all on land being hoarded by private sector land speculators.

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  • Gavin Rider

    Aeodwrath - so you agree that the reason more homes will be built on farm land is because the land is cheaper there, not because the additional homes are needed there.

    Point made.

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  • Aeodwrath. There's a big difference between straightforward economic viability and profiteering. Our developers (those involved in consultions in Yorkshire) have flagged that they are seeking 25% profit on development. They can achieve this by building on greenfields but not brownfields. They feel they have the ear of Government and are pressing their case. This is not in the interests of the general public, urban sprawl is detrimental to the economic viability of urban centres. I do not know of another industry where 25% profits are expected.

    Mr Rider - I think it's worse than flogging the family silver - I think the Coalition are in the process of dumping it at the pawnshop.

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