RTPI Chief Executive Trudi Elliott made a powerful case for additional resources in planning, when she gave evidence this morning to a committee of MPs scrutinising the Housing and Planning Bill. Trudi highlighted the significant cuts over the past five years revealed by research commissioned by the Institute and questioned whether the ambitions of the bill, especially for building more homes to help combat the housing crisis, could be met. More resources would help to speed up the system as a whole, she argued.
Trudi told the MPs there were also many non planning challenges to building more homes, including obtaining access to finance, and skills shortages. With 240,000 planning permissions granted, just 133,000 had been completed or started, so the matter was not just one of the number of permissions. Trudi explained there was clear evidence that planning departments, despite their best efforts, were struggling to fully resource pre-application and post permission discussions.
On starter homes, Trudi said successful places need a mix of housing but the bill had the potential to 'squeeze out' other forms of affordable housing. The bill was too prescriptive and she urged ministers to think again and to allow for greater flexibility to fully develop sites, which would be in the interests of councils, developers and communities, as well as ensuring sites were fully viable. It was important to avoid 'unintended consequences.' Greater flexibility would allow sensible deals to be made on sites.
Permission in principle
On permission in principle Trudi said the RTPI would be seeking an amendment to the bill. Sites should, when developed, have good access by public transport and to a range of places of employment. This is so important that the RTPI believes it should be specified as a criterion. Many brownfield sites are so poorly located that their development would generate high volumes of car traffic and long commutes.
Communities also needed greater assurance on their rights to consultation.
Watch Trudi give her evidence to MPs.
Read our briefing on the bill.
Watch Head of Policy Richard Blyth give evidence to the House of Lords.
Read the RTPI's Guardian's letter on a fair deal for land.