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Turley calls for urgent reforms to planning system following Keir Starmer’s election win

We are urging the new Labour Government to prioritise solving the housing crisis in a new paper launched today following the General Election.


From Scarcity to Stability: Planning for the Future of Housing

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The new Government should move swiftly to support housebuilding by reversing recent policy changes and establishing a more positive and proactive policy context in England, in the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) and a new ambitious National Strategy for Housing for England.

Labour has promised to build 1.5 million new homes in Britain over the next five years, which will require bold decisions and immediate action to boost housebuilding if the party is to reach its target.

Housebuilding has consistently fallen below annual targets and house prices in England have grown an average of 6% annually over the last 30 years. Meanwhile the number of households on local authority waiting lists in England has grown by 14% between 2018-2023.

To help significantly boost the supply of housing, the Government must remove the barriers to development that have marred the housebuilding sector in recent years and provide certainty for an industry that is crucial to economic growth.

Amongst other crucial measures, enforcing the preparation of Local Plans as part of a National Strategy for Housing would be “transformative”. 

Under the NPPF, all local planning authorities (LPA) are required to prepare a long-term Local Plan, which sets out their local housing need. But only 90 of England’s 309 LPAs have adopted a Local Plan within the last five years (up to March 2024). 

According to our research, authorities that have adopted Local Plans since the first publication of the NPPF in 2012 have boosted housing delivery by 39% on average.

Stephen Bell, Chief Executive, said:

“Housing is key to our social, economic and environmental wellbeing. But we have not been building enough homes in the places that need them most. A National Strategy for Housing in England that dovetails with industrial and infrastructure strategies would make a significant difference.

“There’s a clear opportunity for this new Government to outline its commitment to solving our housing crisis by launching its own ambitious strategy.

“We have a housebuilding sector that’s committed to delivering more homes. But day in, day out, it faces a myriad of planning challenges that only serve as bottlenecks for development. It’s imperative the new Labour Government addresses this as a priority.”

One of the biggest challenges facing the planning system is the lack of resource within local authorities. 

As part of its Election promises, the Labour Party committed to hiring 300 new planning officers. But we are calling on the Government to do more to attract qualified planners into public sector roles.

The report also urges the new Government to review Green Belt policies, which are unreasonably constraining in the context of the principles of sustainable development. While the Labour Party has promised to apply a common sense approach to the Green Belt, asking local authorities to regularly review boundaries, previous policies surrounding it have been marred by political divisiveness in recent years, with no opportunity for rational debate.

Bell added:

“There’s widespread misunderstanding of what the Green Belt is, and a political unwillingness to consider whether the policies related to it remain fit for purpose. We need to find an appropriate balance between the importance of meeting housing and economic needs and protecting land that genuinely needs to be kept open. An independent and objective review of the purposes of and policy for the Green Belt should be undertaken that understands and reflects that balance.”

8 July 2024

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