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RTPI response to the Lyons Housing Review

16 October 2014

We applaud the Lyons review report for looking at the housing needs of the nation in depth and for advocating that local authorities have an important and positive role to play in planning for the homes that we need. We hope that any incoming Government would prioritise the challenge of housing the nation and consider Sir Michael Lyons suggested timetable for action.

 

RTPI believe it is right to focus on the land market as a key factor in housing problems. Land owners can often demand such high prices for land that builders are then forced into unpopular, unsuitable and poorly located sites to make their schemes viable.  Our housing report identified that land assembly is critical, thus the concept of Housing Growth Areas, with powers for land assembly, has merit, although we would need to see the detail to know if this really gets to grips with the control that land owners have over housing land supply.

 

RTPI President, Cath Ranson said: “We share the Lyons report’s strong view that as a nation we should continue to plan locally for housing and prioritise doing so.  Notions that a development free-for-all would be good for the country are wrong and would further fuel land speculation”.  We welcome the proposal that there could be incentives for bringing garden cities forward. However, more needs to be done to address matters which cross local authority boundaries. The recommendations on more affordable homes for local people are important, but we would need to see the detail of how this would work in practice. But all of this needs resources and local Government planning departments have been disproportionally reduced.

 

The RTPI’s Note “Beyond Cooperation” looks at how the government could use its spending powers to encourage and reward cooperation that makes things happen.  We are wary of using the Planning Inspectorate - a tribunal - as a means to fill plan making gaps left by local authorities. The Planning Inspectorate is a world class organisation, but not a plan-making body.