03 Mar 23

Round-up of responses to government consultation on proposed national policy changes

Michael Gove’s proposals to water down housing targets will lead to a significant drop in supply of new homes, according to a raft of industry responses to a consultation on proposed planning reforms.

Bodies representing both developers and planners said the proposals were likely to see a drop off in the number of homes planned for by local authorities, and were particularly critical of government plans to make it much harder for councils to review whether green belt sites should be used for homes.

The responses follow research commissioned by the Home Builders Federation (HBF) and the Land Promoters and Developers Federation (LPDF) released this week indicating that the reforms could reduce housebuilding by 77,000 homes per year if introduced as proposed.

However, conservation groups and local authorities have responded in support of the government’s plans, which scrap sanctions for underperforming authorities on housing delivery and look to give councils more leeway to ignore centrally-calculated housing need figures when drawing up their local plans.

In it’s response to the consultation the LPDF, referring to the research it had commissioned from Lichfields, said the “real world consequences” of the proposed changes to the NPPF would include: worsening housing affordability; more concealed households;hiigher rents; longer housing waiting lists; increased homelessness; falling birth rates (of vital importance to the wider economy); and £34bn of lost economic output to the economy by constraining the housing industry, resulting in 386,000 fewer jobs supported by house building.

It called for the government to publish any economic analysis it had undertaken underpinning the proposals, and said “rather than seek to support the wider housebuilding industry in the face of […] economic headwinds […] it has set in train a series of proposed amendments to planning policy which will severely impact housing delivery and thereby damage the sector’s ability to play its full part in aiding the economy’s need to grow.”

Likewise, the Home Builders Federation also referenced the Lichfields analysis,and said of the consultation: “Despite a stated commitment [by the government] to delivering 300,000 homes a year “by the mid-2020s”, of all the new provisions being consulted upon only three […] could be said to be in any way supportive of new development.

“Every other provision will serve to make the delivery of 300,000 homes a year less likely”.

The British Property Federation added that the changes to national planning policy ‘actively work against’ the government’s stated ambition of increasing housing delivery and driving levelling up, and said specifically that the proposal to drop the requirement for local authorities with up-to-date plans to demonstrate a five year supply of developable land “will mean there is less urgency in bringing forward residential development.”

Melanie Leech, Chief Executive, British Property Federation said: “We fully support the government’s aim to harness the planning system to increase housing delivery and drive levelling up but the proposed reforms will only create more delays and obstacles to development at a time when market conditions are already very challenging.

The Chartered Institute of Housing said in its response that the “cumulative effect” of the proposals would be a “watering down of the fundamental idea that local authorities should be meeting housing needs.” It added: “Given the housing emergency the country faces this is the wrong direction of travel and we would urge government to think again about the impact of these proposals.”

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