14 Oct

We have to do more to make our planning system work

Monday, 14 October 2013 - Peter Andrew

Developers, local authorities and policy makers certainly have their differences of opinion, but there’s one thing we seem to agree on when it comes to the state of the nation’s planning system – there’s plenty of work to be done.

This week I was part of a discussion panel at the Housing Market Intelligence Conference along with HBF planning director Andrew Whitaker, planning and environment barrister Ian Dove QC, CPRE campaign and policy director Neil Sinden and local authority leader Jim Harker. We found ourselves drawing similar conclusions on a surprising number of issues.

The hottest topic on the discussion agenda was, of course, the National Planning Policy Framework. I’ve always believed there would be a five-year transition period for the NPPF to bed in but does it look like it’s working for the purpose it was intended? I’m not convinced.

Developers are already receiving more planning approvals since the NPPF came into force, with about 80% of our planning consents now coming at the committee stage and an increasing number through appeal. What’s actually happening is that because many local authorities haven’t adopted their local plans or identified their five-year land supplies, the Planning Inspectorate and Secretary of State are pushing sustainable developments through regardless of overall strategy – which means we’re effectively determining councils’ land allocations for them.

That’s no way to run a planning system. Developers are in the business of building homes but it’s not up to us to map out where they need to be located. This needs to be done by local authorities under the scrutiny of a robust democratic system – but this simply isn’t happening in many areas.

We also need local authorities to work together for the greater good, rather than regarding their neighbouring councils as rivals. There’s no point having a Duty to Co-operate if all councils are doing is telling us they’ve talked about satisfying housing need jointly without actually taking action, and it’s the Government’s responsibility to make sure they’re genuinely co-operating.

The CPRE were also keen to push their argument for ‘brownfield first’ during the debate and I agree that we should be focusing on previously developed land before greenfield sites – but we can only use what we have available. The public sector still owns 40% of all larger development sites and the Government needs to speed up the process of releasing this land if ‘brownfield first’ is to remain a viable option.

But the planning system isn’t just about government and policy. At Taylor Wimpey we’ve already made it our number-one priority to engage with local communities from the earliest possible stage and developers in general need to work harder to put public engagement at the top of their agendas. We need better dialogue between developers, local authorities and stakeholders if we want to deliver the right developments in the right places.

Wednesday’s conference convinced me that there’s a genuine will to make this thing work. But there’s also plenty still to be done if we’re to stand a chance of achieving that.

Your comments

29 Dec

Tom says:

Sunday, 29 December 2013

Dear Taylor Wimpey I find it a shame your buildings are devoid of architectural beauty. Alas the flat packed box and basic geometry are your staple fair. Britain deserves to be great. Like forlorn tales of economic history past you will pass into the lowest common denominator of deep fried food, plastic Chav brands and quick buck s and short cuts. What a shame you don't aspire to buildings of beauty.

12 Mar

martin says:

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Totaly agree with you Tom having paid nearly £290000.00 for a dream detached home to see the development rise around us with nothing more than three storey faceless boxes leaving us with no views or privacy to the back garden it leaves you in no doubt that money over good architectural planning is Taylor Wimpeys policy wears Prince Charles when you need him shame on you

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