This week the RTPI responded to the UK Government’s consultation on changes to national planning policy, as it applies in England. From changing the definition of affordable housing to pushing for higher density housing around commuter “hubs,” to allowing more flexibility when determining applications for “starter homes” on brownfield land in the Green Belt, the consultation was actually fairly narrow in scope, given the wider remit of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF).
However, the proposed changes will have important implications for planning, so the Institute was keen to have its professional members’ views heard. In the response, the Institute said:
- The push to curb councils’ abilities to secure affordable housing in perpetuity is concerning. It is unreasonable to restrict access to starter homes to the under 40s.
- The proposed definition of “commuter hub” is too broad and have suggested this be tightened (highlighting that in practice, planners usually promote high density in such sites anyway), but urged caution at prioritising housing over other developments in these areas because transport “hubs” make equally good places for employment and leisure uses too.
- The danger of losing employment and institutional land was a theme which ran through a number of the answers, as the consultation asked about “strengthening” policy for housing on brownfield and institutional land and small sites. The Institute is particularly concerned about the implication for faith groups, given recent work the RTPI carried out with the AHRC Faith and Place network, as buildings for institutional uses are not “marketed” in the same way that commercial premises are, and so it would be all to easy to cry “unviability” of these uses, of which there is a real concern about shortages.
- With regard to presumption in favour of starter homes on brownfield land in the Green Belt, the Institute stressed the importance of all sites, brownfield or otherwise, being in the right locations for housing. If the way in which “openness of the Green Belt” is assessed is to be reviewed, this should go hand in hand with a review in which “previously developed land” is defined, to try to assist decision makers in determining how much land within a brownfield site’s curtilage would actually be suitable for re-development.
- Although “housing delivery” isn’t solely down to local authorities, reviews of local plan housing trajectories should be once every two years and that if delivery falls under 20% of these trajectories, action should be taken. However, this action should be in the form of dialogue between all stakeholders, not simply designation of a local council as under performing.
Read the response here.
Read all of the RTPI's consultation responses here.