An efficient and fully operational plan-led system where every local authority has the duty to deliver a fully functioning Local Plan every five years which provides for their affordable and market housing needs based on an independent, verifiable and agreed set of housing targets backed by enforceable sanctions to ensure they are delivered.
This should fit into a logical framework of strategic guidance where cross boundary issues can be readily resolved and housing needs do not ‘fall down the gaps’. Local Plans should provide the platform for releasing a broad portfolio of sites of various sizes and locations to help deliver a wide range of homes of different types and tenures. Theoretically, we have a similar system at present, but it is simply not working nor being properly enforced.
The housebuilding industry needs to become more diverse to encourage more small and regional companies back into the market which can deliver the scale and variety of sites needed to meet the broad range of demands and needs within society including affordable housing, self-build/custom build and homes for the elderly.
Housebuilders both large and small should continue to push the boundaries in term of building quality and innovative design and strive to achieve high energy standards, water efficiency and low carbon use.
Firstly, politicians and decision makers need to change their perspective from portraying housing as an unwelcome form of environmental pollution to instead viewing new housing as a positive asset in stimulating growth, meeting peoples’ needs (especially for young people) and helping to address the climate crisis by introducing more energy and water efficient housing.
Secondly, a more open and intelligent debate needs to take place at the strategic level about the opportunities and constraints towards delivering housing which examines the implications of tight green belts, explores the realistic scope for brownfield and urban regeneration and looks at the pressures and priorities for using new housing to help achieve the Government’s ‘levelling up’ objectives and
Thirdly, we need to urgently find immediate solutions to the current embargoes relating to nutrient neutrality, water neutrality, electrical neutrality and biodiversity net gain which are holding up so much badly needed housing development and adding huge costs and delays to the development process.
Fourthly, an urgent review of resourcing within Local Authorities and other associated development agencies is needed to ensure that the planning and development process is fully funded, operational, forward looking and that councillors and officers have an ambitious and positive outlook for their areas.