The RTPI report on Delivering Large Scale Housing Published


Its recommendations are

Community engagement
Recommendation 1: Local and national politicians and campaigning groups as well as planners need to make the case for large scale housing schemes by emphasising the consequences for current and future generations of failing to build enough houses, and the
opportunities represented by large scale schemes to delivery quality healthy communities
Recommendation 2: Local councils, practitioners and developers need to do more to ensure that community engagement reaches a wider cross section of the community, including potential future residents

Recommendation 3: Local authorities and developers should ensure that the pre-application engagement process and local plan consultation are of a high standard, which means that they should be comprehensive, straightforward, accessible and represent good value for money

Recommendation 4: There needs to be public access to information on who owns land and who owns options on land
Recommendation 5: Local authorities should take a larger role in land assembly, for example by the use of existing powers of compulsory purchase

Recommendation 6: Share risks around potential future land uplift in land values more evenly between local authority, developer and landowner so as to bring sites to market now

Recommendation 7: Government departments and agencies should be required to dispose of their surplus land holdings in a way which takes account of the wider community value rather than maximising the capital receipt, and to do so with alacrity
Recommendation 8: In view of the longer lead-in times involved, central government should incentivise large scale housing schemes, for example through financial mechanisms or national planning policy

Recommendation 9: Link together infrastructure expenditure, policies and planning with policies and planning for housing in order to unlock potential sites, for example through budgetary processes or guarantees against future income streams

Recommendation 10: Local authorities should be empowered and encouraged to use existing or innovative funding solutions and utilise central government support through existing funding streams or policies. This could involve local infrastructure funding or forms of devolved pooled resources

Recommendation 11: Local authorities, infrastructure providers and government agencies should develop means to pool departmental and European resources in order to deliver the infrastructure which supports housing schemes
Recommendation 12: Where funding isn’t available, central government should consider underwriting a certain proportion of the site investment
Leadership and governance
Recommendation 13: Where required, local authorities and agencies should be given much greater incentives to work collaboratively across borders to strategically plan for housing and infrastructure sites
Recommendation 14: Leaders, Chief Executives and use planners’ skills more broadly in the design and delivery of corporate and LEP plans for growth
Recommendation 15: Governments need to explore major housing developments should be acknowledged nationally and what special delivery processes may assist their delivery.

I was hoping the report would focus on 15 and offer some positive solutions.

Does Boles Want to Relax Controls in National Parks – But this requires a change in the Law


Nick Boles indicated that he was considering relaxing strict protections for the country’s most beautiful countryside to help developers.

The comments appear to suggest the Coalition wants to allow more development in national parks. Similar plans were quietly shelved last year.

Answering a debate in Parliament on planning rules and the use of housing subsidies in national parks, Mr Boles said he wanted to encourage development there to stop communities becoming “embalmed”.

He said he was worried about “the danger of making rural communities into museum pieces where they are not so much protected as embalmed.

“I think this applies certainly to many communities within national parks. These communities will only retain their appeal and retain life if they are allowed to change and to develop.

Mr Boles lamented that localism – which gives responsibility for deciding where new homes are built to communities – was “perhaps not as fully expressed in national parks as it might be and perhaps we should do to help national parks reflect that policy of localism more fully.”

He said he wanted to have a debate about “the balance between growth, development, economic and social development and protection of the landscape and whether current legislation properly captures what we are trying to achieve and what communities in national parks want to see”.

Mr Boles said he wanted to ensure that national parks were “still the most proud jewels in the crown of the English and Welsh landscape but also living communities that grow and develop and thrive”.

Emma Marrington, Rural Policy Campaigner at the Campaign to Protect Rural England, said: “National Parks are the jewels of English countryside. Many of the misconceptions being pedalled in the debate – and there were quite a few – were not based on the evidence.

“They were an assault on the essence of what makes our National Parks special. Ministers can be assured that CPRE will continue to fight to ensure that the these precious landscapes remain beautiful and thriving for future generations to enjoy.”

Mary Creagh MP, Labour’s Shadow Environment Secretary, added: “David Cameron was forced to drop plans for a duty on National Parks to promote ‘sustainable development’ two years ago in the face of huge public outrage.

“Now the media spotlight has faded it looks like they are trying to sneak it through again.”

England has 10 National Parks – most protected under law dating back to the early 1950s – covering nearly 5,000 square miles of the most beautiful countryside in the world, including Exmoor, the Peak District, Dartmoor and the Lake District.

Each park is run by its own National Park Authority, which has two statutory duties – to conserve the countryside and its wildlife, and to allow people to enjoy it.

Ministers were planning to consult on a third duty – “whether the legislation for National Parks Authorities needs to better reflect their role in facilitating sustainable development”, but the proposals were dropped in June last year.

The NPPF no longer mentions it but planning in national parks is still governed by the  the statutory duty under the Environment Act 1995, which local planning authorities and decision makers should comply with, are to:

■conserve and enhance the natural beauty, wildlife and cultural heritage
■promote opportunities for the understanding and enjoyment of the special qualities of National Parks by the public.
When National Parks and the Broads Authority carry out these purposes they also have the duty to seek to foster the economic and social well being of local communities within their areas.

If it appears that there is a conflict between those purposes the decision maker shall attach greater weight to the purpose of conserving and enhancing the natural beauty, wildlife and cultural heritage of the area comprised in the National Park.

So any change to this, on the loines of the Scottish system which does not have an overidding protection test, would require a change in the law, as would governance arrangements which were in any event reviewed last year.  These are of course DEFRA not DCLG responsibilities.  Boles has about as much responsibility for these matters as he does over windframs,