A recent survey of over 100 local authorities has found that the government’s planning policy has actually worsened the housing crisis. Over a year since the introduction of the National Planning Policy Framework, the Guardian reports that the country is still 100,000 homes short of the target.
An article published by the Guardian earlier this week, has found that plans for new homes are being strangled by red tape during the planning phase of development. Despite the fact that there is an enormous demand for new homes, and the economy is once again strong enough to support the construction of these developments, the Guardian’s research discovered that the average wait period for planning approval is now 14 months, a staggering wait time when one considers the very real need for new properties on the market.
Although there are wider economic factors to this issue, it would appear that the most common reason given by local councils when it comes to building homes is the slow progress of local plans.
It would seem that planners are embroiled in a war between anti and pro homebuilding lobbyists, who are stifling the process with reams upon reams of evidence for or against future house building.
The Guardian believes that many local councils are reluctant to build new homes, spending “significant amounts of money on evidence to try to justify reduced estimates of housing need in their local area.” New data is forever being produced to substantiate claims, and all this leads to further delays.
The councils are pitting themselves against developers who are also investing large sums into counter arguments. At each stage of the development, both parties have to agree on proposals before building can start. This throws up a huge number of roadblocks to developers, who are simply eager to get the job done.
The Guardian cites the case of one unnamed planning inspector, in the South of England, who had to wade through 20 conflicting consultation documents in order to approve a single development. Sadly, the Guardian found that this case was not unusual.
The paper also found that many plans are actually producing less homes than originally envisaged, and even more councils had failed to produce a new local plan. Even developments that were started way back in 2011 are now coming under scrutiny, because they do not meet current planning regulations.
Naturally, the lack of housing in a local area has a devastating effect on the local economy, infrastructure and even the local cultural scene. As more and more councils focus on providing jobs for young people, they forget that many of those young people are unable to afford homes in the area. As a result, they are forced to commute to work. Not only does this make it harder for businesses to recruit, but it also means that outside business hours the area is effectively a ghost town.
Housing is turning into a huge issue for the current government, with a report this week discovering that it has become the biggest concern for Londoners. Housing policy needs to change, because at the moment this country is undergoing a serious housing crisis. The drive to build more houses is there, it just needs the support to see those houses become a reality.
To read the original Guardian article, click here.
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