Written evidence from RIBA (ARSS 20)|
The Royal Institute of British Architects champions
better buildings, communities and the environment through architecture
and our members. The 40,000-strong professional institute is committed
to serving the public interest through good design, and represents
85% of registered architects in the UK as well as a significant
number of international members.
The RIBA welcomes the coalition government's focus
on local communities and the decision to put them at the heart
of planning decisions. However, this must not impact upon the
quantity and quality of housing during this critical shortage
of housing. The abolition of regional spatial strategies means
aspects covered by the strategies such as regional house building
targets need to be replaced by new policy initiatives to ensure
housing and other essential developments are delivered.
The RIBA's believes that:
The abolition of regional housing targets must be
followed up with a rigorous plan to ensure enough homes are built
to house the growing number of households across the UK.
The match-funded council tax incentives currently
outlined in the New Homes Bonus will not be enough to solve the
problem posed by the current severe housing shortage.
Local Enterprise Partnerships will provide a good
platform for delivering housing, they should use research, planning
and design expertise to deliver the right quantity and quality
Recommendations for the delivery of new housing through
a locally-led system:
Local Enterprise Partnerships should carry out an
assessment to identify need and opportunity for (and therefore
strategically plan) transport; energy infrastructure; significant
housing developments; waste, refuse and recycling; significant
economic developments (eg superstores or major retail parks; and
Incentives need to be improved upon. To identify
need, Strategic Housing Market Assessments should be used to understand,
analyse and communicate the definitive demand for housing in each
Local Enterprise Partnership or Local Authority.
It is essential to have structures and mechanisms
in place which enable the delivery of the infrastructure necessary
to support new development and economic growth. The Regional Development
Agencies, through their Regional Spatical Strategies, currently
play an important role in delivering strategic planning objectives
and we believe that alternative methods of delivery need to be
established once the RDAs are abolished.. Many local authorities
do not currently have the skills or expertise to deliver strategic
planning and economic development priorities.
If Local Authorities are to be real leaders in development,
they will need to work with a range of partners, including neighbouring
Local Authorities. They will need to take a strategic approach
to planning policy and ensure the adequate delivery of the housing
and infrastructure required to support development.
We believe that Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs)
would seem to be the natural place for strategic planning decisions
to reside. At present we are considering that LEPs should carry
out an assessment to identify need and opportunity for (and therefore
strategically plan) the following:
Significant housing developments.
Waste, refuse and recycling.
Significant economic developments (eg superstores
or major retail parks).
These are the minimum requirements for LEPs to be
useful, and the most appropriate areas to take on critical functions
that might otherwise be lost through the abolition of regional
Given these minimum requirements, it would make sense
for their remit to extend further and take up other elements previously
governed at local authority level, in order to facilitate delivery
of its economic strategy:
Create a joint Spatial Plan for the authorities involved
in the LEP, covering the issues listed above.
Pool some local authorities' planning resource to
deal more efficiently with those economically and socially important
Run Design Reviews
which review those significant schemes (using national planning
guidance, and local authority guidance specific to that location).
Have a single design guide aligning local authority
design criteria and policy, to relate to the types of development
A local community needs to have a say in how their
neighbourhood is built and developed. We also need to ensure that
the UK is building enough homes. The RIBA recommends that either
Local Authorities or at a "larger than local" level
Local Enterprise Partnerships all undertake a Strategic Housing
Market Assessment to inform on what the local community needs.
The Assessment could include a consultation exercise, as a method
of collecting input from local residents, and its results should
also be widely communicated to evidence and demonstrate why house
building is needed.
The Assessment should include:
Local house price analysis over time.
The number of homes built annually over time.
An account of social housing waiting lists (how they
have grown or declined over time, and analysis of households and
An account of intermediate housing applicants (as
Local migration patterns analysed against economic
development and house prices.
The Strategic Housing Market Assessments would demonstrate
the local housing need in an area, rather than relying on unsubstantiated
top-down targets, and would help make LEPs make sound, well-evidenced
decisions about what homes need to be built and of what type,
to suit local households.
Seeking to increase the quantity of housing being
delivered should not come at the cost of quality.
Regional Design Review panels, currently funded by
the RDAs, operate across most regions. They assess large schemes
and have played an important role in maintaining the standard
of significant new developments and ensuring that design considerations
are taken into account pre-application. The abolition of the RDAs
will mean that the future funding of these panels is uncertain.
We suggest that design review should continue to
be conducted. This could be provided at a LEP level or, as it
does already in many areas, at a Local Authority level.
10 For example, a recent Training in Development Econics
report sponsored by a number of bodies including the CLG, HCA,
RTPI and RICS, concluded that planners and councillors need more
training in the economics of the development process. Back
A panel of professionals including architects, landscape architects
and others to assess design quality of proposed schemes to support
the Local Authority, the applicant and the architects to get the
best scheme for the area. Back