After government criticism that Labour’s top-down housing policies are not producing enough homes, the Treasury and the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills is changing the planning system in an attempt to stimulate economic growth.
Building up businesses
Previously the ideal was to put local communities in control of the housing and business developments in their area, to allow communities to both grow and keep the areas that they care about safe.
However George Osborne announced in his March Budget that the country needed “a new presumption in favour of sustainable development, so that the default answer to development is ‘yes’”.
This means that the planning system is not in place to encourage social and environmental safeguarding any longer; the new planning policy, much to the outrage of environmental and conservationist groups, is set to primarily facilitate development and economic growth.
This is new National Planning Policy Framework (NPFF) is troubling news to the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) and other environmental groups. They claim that there is no convincing evidence that a deregulatory planning policy will stimulate economic growth.
In addition, the NPPF maintains protection for national parks but removes protection of the countryside for its own sake, a policy that has been active for over 60 years.
The National Planning Policy Framework also put an end to the brownfield-first policy, which mandated that new housing developments prioritize building on previously built-up lands.
When the policy was first introduced in 1995, almost half of new developments in England were built on greenfields, or fields that had not previously been used for industrial purposes; after 10 years, 75% of new houses were being built on brownfield land.
The NPPF also requires local authorities to allocate more new land for housing, causing concern that authorities in the green belt will be unable to find enough housing land and be forced to build in the green belt.