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RTPI response to Labour's planning proposals

24 September 2013

HilaryBennMP2013Labour announced a raft of planning-related proposals at the Brighton Conference, many of which were trailed in the Rt Hon Hilary Benn MP's speech at the RTPI fringe.

The proposals include:

  • A new "right to grow" for councils beyond their boundaries, overriding objections from neighbouring authorities
  • Boosting the power of councils to purchase land from developers, telling them to "use it or lose it"
  • Floating the idea of a fee to discourage land banking
  • Measures to encourage another generation of new towns and garden cities
  • Former chairman of the BBC trust, Sir Michael Lyons, will lead a housing review for the party.

RTPI reaction

The RTPI welcomes the Labour Party’s interest in land, a key issue for the country. Our recently published report, Delivering Large Scale Housing, draws attention to the difficulty of securing enough land for housing in the right place.  Labour is right to giving thought about this issue.

It is however wrong to focus only on developers, and wrong to focus on land with permission. Whilst we have encouraged developers to use outstanding permissions, the greater challenge is identifying sufficient land for house building to meet need and we welcome the proposals that developers should register land they own and have options on it – a proposal that  mirrors our report’s call for more transparency over land ownership.

We stated in our report that we need to look at how strategic planning works. The RTPI believes that the way to address the ‘larger than local’ planning deficit is by good strategic planning that extends beyond local authority boundaries, and we will need to look carefully at the proposed ‘right to grow’.

We welcome encouragement for areas to grow and New Towns and Garden Cities may have an important role to play but more needs to be done to make land acquisition easier,  and thought given to how important infrastructure links to the proposed new developments. Importantly, significant new housing schemes must be planned alongside national transport spending.