Government action should focus on building the one million homes that already have planning permission – CPRE Hampshire writes to Hampshire MPs

2nd September 2020

CPRE Hampshire has written to all Hampshire MPs about the Government’s proposed planning reforms. The countryside charity highlights that the national house building targets can be achieved without such radical reforms and that the focus of Government action should be to ensure that the one million homes with existing planning permission are built out immediately.

Dee Haas, Chair of CPRE Hampshire says, ‘There are many aspects of the Planning for the Future White Paper that we would support. The ambition to bridge the generational divide; the emphasis on strict design codes; the commitment to streamlining the Local Plan process and the determination to involve many more local people and their communities into the Planning process are all welcomed.

However, we also have substantial concerns about the proposals and many of them stem from the possibly unintended consequences of the algorithms used in the various calculations. These algorithms produce a number of distortions which fundamentally undermine the stated intentions of the Government’s proposals.’

CPRE Hampshire says that the proposals would:

1. Transfer development from urban to rural areas

The proposed new standard method would shift housing numbers from the cities to the rural districts. In Hampshire, there would be increases in Winchester by 58%, East Hampshire by 50%, Test Valley by 40%; and decreases in Southampton by 17%, Portsmouth by 14%.

The charity says that this cannot be consistent with the stated aims of achieving sustainable development and maximising re-use of brownfield land. It also does not account for any constraints in terms of National Parks, other designations, nor water resources, or access to public transport hubs. In Hampshire, these are critical.

2. Make housing in Hampshire even less affordable

The algorithm used to calculate the adjustment/affordability factor creates a built-in incentive for developers to continue to build more houses at a price above the median price because this would ensure that the Local Planning Authority is then required to allocate even more land for even more homes. The effect will be to make the average house even less affordable for the younger generation.

3. Deprive the most disadvantaged regions of investment

The algorithm used to calculate the Infrastructure Levy will distort the geographic distribution of the investment. The way it is currently structured, the vast majority of the investment will accrue to the richest areas of the country. The more deprived areas of the country will yet again be disadvantaged.

Dee Haas adds: ‘But the overwhelming flaw that our members see in the proposals is that the changes proposed are not necessary to meet the Government’s stated target.

According to the Planning White Paper, the Government is committed to meeting ‘the national housebuilding target of 300,000 new homes annually, and one million homes by the end of the Parliament.’ But this can be achieved without these reforms. At present, there are one million homes that already have planning permission that have not been built. In order to meet the target that Government has set and to address, with urgency, the major issue of the generational divide, we believe that the focus of Government action should be to ensure that these existing planning permissions are built out immediately. The low absorption rates identified in the Letwin report should no longer be tolerated.”

CPRE Hampshire recently attended a virtual meeting with Robert Jenrick MP, Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government and Crispin Truman, CPRE Chief Executive. The meeting with CPRE was at Robert Jenrick’s request to discuss the Planning for the Future White Paper. Mr Jenrick confirmed that he was listening to CPRE’s long experience of planning and the organisation’s wisdom and views were much appreciated. CPRE Hampshire is now asking to meet local MPs to discuss these points further.

CPRE Hampshire will be sending its responses to the Changes to the current planning system and Planning for the future consultations direct to the Government and will feed into CPRE’s national responses. It is also encouraging its membership and members of the public to submit their own responses to the consultations and/or to write to their local MP. CPRE Hampshire’s letter to Hampshire MPs, which can be used as a template to help with individual responses, is available here: Letter to Hampshire MPs re planning reforms 25 August 2020. The website makes it easy to write to politicians.

To help CPRE Hampshire campaign for a planning system that benefits people and the countryside, join as a member.

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