Here commissioned from the LGIU
The government has argued that “seven out of ten local councils have now published Local Plans compared to two out of ten previously, and there is good progress across the remainder”. New research conducted by the LGiU, however, casts doubtnon this analysis. The LGiU estimates that over a quarter (26 per cent) of local authorities will take more than a year to adopt their Local Plan
Respondents to the survey suggested that the Planning Inspectorate, through the examination process, is prioritising development over the views of
local people. The research found that housing land availability was the most common reason for Local Plans being rejected. In contrast, the
research found that communities are most concerned about protection of the natural environment.
Our research has found that the NPPF is, in fact, at risk of undermining localism for two key reasons. First, the challenging schedule set for implementing the NPPF and, second, an apparent centralisation of the planning system. The research also identified two external factors that are making Local Plans challenging to deliver: landbanking and resources in planning departments.
The terminology used in the report is confusing. All developers need to keep a landbank to ensure flow of sales given the lag from purchase to commencement. The issue is then two fold firstly whether developers are withholding sites from commencement that are viable, to dripfeed the market to keep prices high and secondly to what extent and over what period are sites of marginal viability now considered. Certainly as we are arguably at the bottom of the market now consideration on strict terms of vaibility now, rather than over say the next 5 years, necessarily pl;aces pressure on green field sites. These are entirely separate issues and the report somewhat confuses the two.
Further confusion over SHMAs
Supporters of the NPPF have acknowledged that national priorities are taking precedence over the views of local communities. The House Builders Federation, for instance, has criticised some councils for allowing so-called “objective assessments” to be distorted by locally informed “subjective considerations and policy assumptions such as the effect of the recession or environmental and heritage constraints”
Even opponents of the NPPF such as myself acknowledge this is a big big problem, policy based evidence not evidence based policy. Numbers are distorted everywhere and there is an almost pathological fear of doing SHMAs properly and objectively. This is an entirely separate issue from once you have established that need what should the targets be and where should it go. Lets not confuse local views on these policy matters with objectivism on need.