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Lyons Housing Review – Planners can help solve the housing crisis

06 March 2014

Land assembly, strategic planning and infrastructure all have a key role to play in helping to solve the housing crisis; that’s the message from the Royal Town Planning Institute in its submission to the Labour Party’s Lyons Housing Review.

Following the announcement by Ed Miliband last year that a Labour Government would increase the supply of new homes in England above 200,000 a year, Sir Michael Lyons, former chairman of the BBC trust was asked to lead a housing review for the party.

Cath Ranson

“The RTPI welcomes Labour’s focus on housing,” said Cath Ranson, President of the Royal Town Planning Institute. “What we need to answer is where and how the new housing will be built and where people will work.” 

While everyone agrees we need more housing, there are increasingly two entrenched positions. There are those who believe the planning system is too liberal, while others think it is bureaucratic and red tape is blocking development.

Ranson said: “A number of conditions need to be in place to deliver desirable housing developments. From a planning perspective it is essential that the delivery of housing is accompanied by adequate transport and social infrastructure provision. The current housing crisis will not be solved by filling quotas of houses; we need to create places in which people want to live.”

A key part of the RTPI’s recommendations focus on the need to open up more land for housing development. One way to do this is for better access to information on who owns land and who owns options on land. “We welcome the proposal that developers should register land they own and have options on – a proposal that mirrors our own report on Delivering Large Scale Housing,” said the RTPI’s President.

RTPI submission

The RTPI’s submission [PDF] calls on government departments and agencies to dispose of their land holdings in a way which takes account of the wider community value rather than maximising the capital receipt. The institute also recognises the important role New Towns and Garden Cities have to play.

“However much more needs to be done to make land acquisition easier with thought given to how infrastructure links to the proposed development. Significant new housing schemes must be planned alongside national transport spending, and as a country we must get to grips properly with strategic planning over areas greater than a single authority,” said Ranson.