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Reform the planning system and reinstate local targets to help build 1.5 million new homes over five years


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13 minutes ago, Alan Ambrose said:

What do you think that means?

 

I would say central Government setting stronger new housing targets for individual LPA's to meet so that LPA rejections can be more easily challenged/appealed IF those targets are not being met.

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40 minutes ago, IanR said:

 

I would say central Government setting stronger new housing targets for individual LPA's to meet so that LPA rejections can be more easily challenged/appealed IF those targets are not being met.

 

I hope it works but fundamentally I think government targets are the wrong way to go. Feels like the infamous Soviet tractors factories. 

 

Better in my view to eliminate the hurdles in the planning system. Here are some of my ideas. 

 

1. A walk in, walk out service for domestic houses. 

2. Default an application to approval if the council doesn't reply in an appropriate period of time. 

3. Guaranteed same day approval for knock and rebuild if your house fits inside the same "box" and the style is appropriate. 

4. Compulsory purchase and immediate public auction of derelict houses and brownfield sites. 

5. Relax the listing criteria for lower grades of houses so that people can properly "restomod" their houses rather than being forced to live in something's from the dark age. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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6. Force development companies to start building on their "land banks" or compulsory purchase them and return them to other housebuilders / councils / small developers.

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Compulsory purchase of housing stock that has been vacant for 6 months or more. 200% uplift in council tax for second homes and overseas owners, would also go a long way.

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For starters, my list includes:

 

+ force the inspectorate and LPAs to publish full stats and don't let them play games e.g. taking 3 months to get to validation. Put the bottom 5% in 'special measures' without fail.

+ penalise LPAs financially if they're slow - return planning fees after 13 weeks, automatic approval after 20 weeks.

+ penalise LPAs if the pre-app advice they give is wrong. Allow recovery of resulting follow-on costs in the county courts (architects fees etc) due to erroneous pre-app advice.

+ force LPAs to accept paid-for meetings with applicants.

+ stop LPAs using generic terms without more detailed definition - amenity, environment etc. 

+ allow applicants to nominate applications for planning committee review.

+ make single dwellings exempt from part O, SuDs, biodiversity, nitrate neutrality rules.

+ make LPAs suggest design amendments (in at least 3 rounds) instead of just blank refusal.

+ disallow LPA refusal using generic terms without evidence & substantiation. For instance if the LPA thinks the design is 'too big' they should justify why (e.g. floor areas of neighbours, average floor areas in LPA region) and propose a figure for an acceptable floor area.

 

+ for appeals, throw out the LPA statements of case (i.e. appeal automatically allowed) if the LPA doesn't follow the appeals procedural guide.

+ automatically award full costs (including applicant's time at a prescribed rate) if an appeal is allowed - right now, there are no repercussions for an LPA that wastes applicant's resources by going to appeal.

 

 

 

 

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18 minutes ago, Alan Ambrose said:

+ disallow LPA refusal using generic terms without evidence & substantiation. For instance if the LPA thinks the design is 'too big' they should justify why (e.g. floor areas of neighbours, average floor areas in LPA region) and propose a figure for an acceptable floor area.

Awesome response Alan - can't disagree with anything; great ideas!

 

On a personal note, following my dismissed appeal, evidence is a key one for me. The Inspector made several observations that were clearly opinions and yet used that to substantiate their decision. They clearly don't know that "demonstrably" in relation to harm is not about opinions but means they actually have to provide evidence to support the observation.

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6 hours ago, Alan Ambrose said:

What do you think that means?

It means nothing.

 

It's just part of a Manifesto to make people think something is going to change.

 

I'd much rather they explained how they're going to encourage builders to build more houses to a higher standard of construction and fuel efficiency, while at the same time make them cheap enough to be classed as social housing.

 

That would have been something worth reading as it would probably require an input from Prof Brian Cox to explain how it worked!

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6 minutes ago, Bancroft said:

 

I'd much rather they explained how they're going to encourage builders to build more houses to a higher standard of construction and fuel efficiency, while at the same time make them cheap enough to be classed as social housing.

This is an interesting one for me, but also a worry.

 

My own Local Authority in their new Local Plan (currently at Regulation 19 stage) will be pretty much mandating near-Passivhaus levels of building performance. But if that's not mandated at a national level, I fear it will mean the volume housebuilders will concentrate their efforts, at least initially, outside of my Local Authority and when that Local Authority is then well behind on their targets, will effectively hold them to ransom about their *local* requirements for building performance...

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Can nobody do maths here?

 

1,500,000 houses over 5 years = 300,000 per year = THE EXISTING TARGET (that has not been met for many yers)

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7 minutes ago, ProDave said:

1,500,000 houses over 5 years = 300,000 per year = THE EXISTING TARGET (that has not been met for many yers)

 

However, UK is completing houses at a rate of 200,000 ±10,000 for the last few years. Current targets are not enforceable.

(Not that I think Labour will do any better, but we'll see)

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1 hour ago, Alan Ambrose said:

For starters, my list includes

You don't seem to like LPAs. They are necessary but under-resourced. The big developers play games too, issuing huge applications without warning  and multiple applications for the same site.

5 hours ago, garrymartin said:

. Force development companies to start building on their "land banks" or compulsory purchase the

That would work, and easily.. 

 

57 minutes ago, Bancroft said:

To a higher standard of construction 

Easy. No signnoff, no sale. All houses inspected. Random ones air tested (not developer's choice). They could do it right first time if they needed to.

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LPA,s need funding to achieve all these changes, the same as all the other changes needed/promised, so, either we pay more or other funding is cut. Time will tell. 🤞

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21 minutes ago, joe90 said:

LPA,s need funding to achieve all these changes,

True, but do they all need to be local, could it be a "National" instead of "Local". We pay for every LPA and all the local management and logistics, could we get more bang for the pound by nationalising some of the scope?

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45 minutes ago, joe90 said:

LPA,s need funding to achieve all these changes, the same as all the other changes needed/promised, so, either we pay more or other funding is cut. Time will tell. 🤞

300 new planning officers proposed through charging higher stamp duty rates for second properties and foreign buyers I believe - something like that...

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We were speaking with a planning consultant re putting in a new planning application to instead build a two storey modernist designed property instead of the traditional single barn style dwelling that was granted to the previous owners.  The consultant mentioned that the Conservatives made getting that approved difficult with their planning reforms of Dec 2023 and that Labour have committed to reverting those changes within 100 days of being elected.  He said that it will make the likelihood of getting our application through easier.   I have no idea what he actually means though.

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If it were me, something new & innovative like this is needed.

 

1.  Govt instruct local councils to identify a minimum of % of their area for housing within x months targeting brownfield sites, MOD land, factories etc etc etc prior to using greenfield.  if land not already owned by state or local authority, compulsory purchases made to create fast track building zones.

 

2.  This newly state owned zones sold as single plots to private individuals, developers, housing associations etc.  As such the cost of the compulsory purchases is recovered at zero cost to taxpayer or even a small profit to the state.  Nobody is making money out if it.  
 

3.  Local authorities agree a set of broad design requirements to fit in with local area and needs and produce a catalogue of hundreds of designs and styles with detailed drawings for high quality houses.  Like what Kim Jong Un does with the North Korean haircuts.  Any design outwith this catalogue needs normal PP otherwise default being you can just crack on and build your preferred approved design via a fast fact approval process.  Eg plot 27 is pre approved for a single house, or two semis.  Plot 41 for 6 flats or three terraced houses. Etc

 

4.  Land Owners can then go ahead and build on this basis.  No planning required.

 

5.  If plot is not built on with x limited years plot ownership returns to state, without refund for purchase price.  Build on it or lose it.

 

6.  Self builders in one of these zones are VAT exempt from the outset. No paying vat then claiming back.  HMRC do spot checks to ensure no fraud.  Upfront build costs reduce by 20%.
 

7.  Lending schemd so that the wealthier people can use their own savings or equity in their own homes to go into a national fund or similar that provides cheap loans to those seeking to build in these zones.  Sort of a credit Union whereby the wealthier contribute at zero risk and some return (eg tax free saving), and the younger generation access and benefit from cheap loans.  Effectively the wealthier lend to the poorer.  The bank of mum and dad actually effectively becomes just that via a scheme.  

 

no doubt what I’m suggesting can easily be picked apart and criticised but mainly what I’m saying is if not my idea, we do definitely need real innovation to facilitate individuals and companies to build good quality homes easily, quickly and cheaply in a way that everyone wins, not just the very wealthy.

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

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34 minutes ago, Bozza said:

2.  This newly state owned zones sold as single plots to private individuals, developers, housing associations etc.  As such the cost of the compulsory purchases is recovered at zero cost to taxpayer or even a small profit to the state.  Nobody is making money out if it.  

I have always thought councils should buy land for building and sell as plots with planning so “the people” make the profit not big businesses.

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Really comes down to building the right type of housing, in the right place and at the right price.

This is easy to to do with other products i.e. TVs, cars, but because of the higher purchase price of a house, and the fact it will be in a fixed position for decades or more, the risks of getting it wrong are too high.

Governments, and especially local government, have to be quite risk adverse by default (they are playing with our money).

I have no idea what the perfect solution is, but a bit of extra tax here, and a small subsidy there, is not going to make a difference.

 

Maybe a big tombola with geo coordinates as the prises.

£10 per ticket and a daily draw.

If you win, you can do what you like with the bit of land.

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I would like to see a bit taken from the Australian planning system 

we had two applications approved in Australia, one an extension and the other a new build. 
 

both had planning passed the same day I took the application to the council 

your development has to fit in with certain criteria laid out by your local governing body. 
take your application in, if it fits in the criteria then it passes, simple. 
 

if you design something outside of the criteria then it has to go before a planning officer to be assessed and dismissed or passed. 
this bit can cost loads and take a good while. 
 

it frees up planning office to deal with a minimum of applicants. 
 

 

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>>> You don't seem to like LPAs.

 

@saveasteading

 

Anyone's personal feelings are irrelevant regarding changes of policy ... but individual's personal experiences of the planning system are relevant in that they can illustrate problems although in a narrative rather than a statistical way.

 

Take @garrymartin 's experience - he's wasted his time, energy and money pursuing approval on a plot that his LPA could and should have told him in 5 minutes they were never going to allow - simply because it is in the countryside. The LPA's excuse is some complex nonsense about 'sustainable travel' disguising their policy that they simply won't allow approvals in the countryside. That could and should have been made clear - probably before he even applied. Maybe an 'important planning policies' section on the LPA's website. The whole thing was a dreadful waste of his, the LPA's and the inspectorate's time and energy and demonstrates huge inefficiency.

 

 

Do you disagree that the planning system should be swift, efficient, open, rational, equitable, predictable and proportionate. That's not what we have right now. It should be obvious that the LPAs and the Inspectorate should themselves obey the planning rules and also not mislead the public and government.

 

The context as we all know is longer and longer planning delays, a continuing failure to meet house building targets, decisions based on badly-justified personal opinions.

 

ATM we're playing a sort of very expensive 20 questions game - 'will this work?' - 'no, and we're not going to be clear on why and what you can do to make it work'. OK 'will this work then'. etc etc etc 

 

Biggest changes IMO are to (a) ensure the often 100x profits from obtaining permission are fairly distributed, (b) have a quick, collaborative, evidence & data-based decision system, (c) make it proportionate (that means far fewer rules for self-builders than larger developers), (d) consistency both within LPAs and between LPAs, (e) make it proactive for the LPAs (yes, get them to source land to meet their targets and figure out appropriate design guides).

 

  

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3 minutes ago, Alan Ambrose said:

Take @garrymartin 's experience - he's wasted his time, energy and money pursuing approval on a plot that his LPA could and should have told him in 5 minutes they were never going to allow - simply because it is in the countryside. The LPA's excuse is some complex nonsense about 'sustainable travel' disguising their policy that they simply won't allow approvals in the countryside. That could and should have been made clear - probably before he even applied. Maybe an 'important planning policies' section on the LPA's website. The whole thing was a dreadful waste of his, the LPA's and the inspectorate's time and energy and demonstrates huge inefficiency.

I understand where you are coming from, and the sentiment remains valid, but the facts are somewhat different. The LPA *does* make it clear that approvals won't be given outside of defined development boundaries except in specific circumstances. As the plot is outside of the development boundary, it is classed as being in the "open countryside" despite it being the garden of an existing dwelling. It doesn't meet the specific circumstances where approval might be given. I knew this and the LPA and I agree that this is in conflict with policy. However, they couldn't demonstrate meeting their legal requirements concerning Self-build and their 5-YR (4-Yr now) plans are failing. Hence, the "tilted balance" is applied and although building in the "open countryside" would amount to harm, it has to be balanced against the positive aspects of the proposal. The balance is whether the harms "significantly and demonstrably" outweigh the benefits. I don't feel they do, but then I guess everyone applying for permission and appealing a refusal would think that... 😉 

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