Written evidence from Bloor Homes Northwest
Regional Spatial Strategy Housing Numbers should
Transitional arrangements should be expedited.
Revisions to the plan system should be enacted as
soon as practicable to avoid a policy vacuum.
With the abolition of Regional Spatial Strategies
(RSS) the town planning system has been fundamentally altered.
Regional Spatial Strategies were introduced as an important component
following the 2004 Planning Act. This Act effectively introduced
a cascade of development plans from planning policy statements
at the National level, Regional Spatial Strategies at the regional
level and then the local development framework. I am aware that
the legality of the relocation of Regional Spatial Strategies
will be considered following a challenge by CALA HOMES.
Within this submission I intend to consider the implications
on the house building industry with the abolition of Regional
Spatial Strategies. Various reports have indicated that the number
of houses constructed in the 2009-10 period will be in the order
of 120,000 completions. This compares historically to the completion
levels of 1923. As a benchmark the Kate Barker Report "Review
of the House Building Industry (2004)" indicated broadly
that in this period we would need to construct something like
250,000 houses per year in order to meet demand. It is important
to point out that this demand is not driven by the house building
industry, not driven by the Office of National Statistics, not
driven by Local Authorities or indeed Regional Planning Bodiesit
is driven by human behaviour. The failure to provide sufficient
homes to match demand has a fundamental impact on the economy
and the movement of the population throughout the housing stock.
It is noted by recent announcements from the Communities
Secretary (Eric Pickles) that this Government has a fundamental
commitment to the house building industry. Indeed it is a noted
aspiration of the current Government to return Britain to a nation
of home builders. However, it is my contention that with the abolition
of Regional Spatial Strategies and the removal of this important
element of the planning process the number of new homes planned
and constructed is likely to remain low for the foreseeable future.
An immediate and direct impact of the abolition of Regional Spatial
Strategies has, according to the National Housing Federation resulted
in some 85,000 new homes that were planned being cancelled or
at the very least held back from production.
Furthermore in the Bedford area, of particular note
has been the impact upon plan preparation in the Milton Keynes
and Aylesbury Growth Area. Milton Keynes Council has resolved
to oppose development of the South West Milton Keynes Strategic
Development Area (5,390 new homes).
In short, in this major growth area, despite massive
public and private sector investmentplan making to deliver
much needed new housing and employment has stalled for the foreseeable
At a time when the British economy is slowly emerging
from recession this is a great worry to us all. However, in the
longer term I am confident that the house building industry will
react positively to whatever new planning measures emerge. However,
at this time we are in a period of transition. As I have outlined
many Local Authorities have delayed work on their emerging local
development frameworks and many others are reviewing overall housing
requirements in the context of the abolition of Regional Spatial
Strategies. At the very least this will result in a slow down
in constructionat this very critical timeuntil the
replacement arrangements are put in place.
I am aware that it is unlikely that such arrangements
will be in place until the latter part of 2011.
In light of this continued uncertainty I would urge
the Minister to reinstate the housing numbers from the Regional
Spatial Strategies until at the very least a new planning system
has been put in place. Failure to do this will exacerbate the
already massive under provision of both private and affordable
housing and potentially undermine the recovery of the British
I would also urge the Minister to ensure clear transitional
arrangements are in place to avoid the policy vacuum that is currently
resulting in delays to the planning process. In my view it is
all too easy for Local Authorities to delay plan making whilst
they await clarity from central government.
A distinct, but related point is that as a result
of the changes to the Planning System it seems almost inevitable
that there will need to be fundamental change in the structure
of the system itself. Any changes should be consulted uponbut
enacted quickly to avoid yet more delay.