The Chancellor used last week’s Autumn Statement to outline a number of further planning reforms to “address delays… and reduce costs for developers”. The reality is that what he is proposing won’t get the homes built because he fails to realise that planning isn’t the problem.
From slashing statutory consultations with organisations like English Heritage and Natural England, to making it harder for local authorities to impose conditions on the quality of housing, the Statement is taking us down a familiar path. This is the Government that is restricting communities’ rights to protect their village greens and allowing office space to be converted into flats without the need for planning permission.
We have a housing crisis but it won’t be solved by the Chancellor stumbling around dismantling a planning system he barely understands.
George Osborne boasts that the deregulation drive means the “approval rate for planning applications is at a 13-year high”. Unfortunately this does not translate into more homes on the ground. We already have 210,000 homes in London with planning permission but they are not being built. The problem isn’t planning; it’s banks not lending and big developers land banking.
The latter is why both Ed Miliband and Boris Johnson are promoting a use it or lose it planning permission.