Harris Lamb Blog – 15th April
15th April, 2011.
Localism & Planning – Another thought!
By Nick Aylett, Agency.
I read over the weekend how John Prescott, as he was then, ruled in 2000 that 60% of all new homes had to be built on previously used land….
…This target was exceeded with a reported 80% of new homes built on brownfield sites over the following years. Bear in mind that this was in the relative ‘boom’ period of plentiful credit and accelerating house prices.
The Budget on 23rd March 2011 abolished this target. Councils are now free to decide their own direction of travel for new build housing.
The article I read though said that the number of planning applications had been falling every single quarter since last May and applications were down 22% on a year ago “as a result of the localism agenda”. A continuing credit crunch is certainly in some part to blame for much of this but there may be other issues at stake.
The consensus from many of the major house builders is that they will not generally “build” houses where sales prices are less than £175.00 per sq. ft. This effectively rules out building in much of the UK and says a great deal about the house building industry’s view on risk – they are far more risk adverse. Given falling house values in some areas this is not too surprising.
With local authorities now having powers to set their own housing targets the argument was that instead of development being demanded centrally this will instead be led locally. The problems will arise in how local councils view new planning proposals being brought to them by the housing developers. There is a need for councils to quickly interpret and react positively to market requests. Bear in mind that there are a lot of new negotiating skills being learnt!
The argument made was that “217,000 homes have been scrapped from council plans” as a result of the localist agenda. Quite why the headline runs over the plans for 200,000 new homes going into the ether is without proper analysis, but the arguments of market uncertainty and continuing tight credit are very relevant.
What is needed is a really positive engagement between those people planning and those judging what is planned. Those “judging what is planned” are seen as the local electorates and their elected members. In my opinion engaging and agreeing in commercially acceptable timetables is key.
For advice and assistance on all aspects of development, Nick would be happy to help. He can be reached on 01905 22 666 or via email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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