Tom Nicholson, Divisional Chairman at Linden Homes commented:
“Linden Homes welcomes the proposals set out in the Housing White Paper and will be responding to the consultation in due course.
“The reforms introduced by the last Government through the National Planning Policy Framework have helped to deliver more homes; however, too many local planning authorities are yet to adopt Local Plans which has significantly slowed down housing delivery in some areas. We therefore welcome the commitment by the Government to require Local Authorities to speed up plan making, keep these plans under regular review and where necessary intervene to ensure plans are produced. The intention to introduce ‘Assessment of Housing Need’ and ‘Housing Delivery Assessments’ are also notable improvements to the current inconsistent approach being taken across the UK.
“Linden Homes remains concerned about the current level of local authority planning resources and is pleased to see a recognition in the White Paper that further investment is required. To deliver a highly effective plan led system local authorities need to be well resourced and have the political support of local members. Under the White Paper these local authority teams will co-ordinate cross boundary working under the duty to co-operate, regularly update housing need assessment, introduce and keep under review five-year local plan cycles and introduce action plans to address shortfall when needed. In addition the same local authority resource will need to support multiple Neighbourhood Plan Making processes across their areas. To see delivery of a fully integrated planning service like this needs significant investment. We welcome the Government’s intention to increase planning fees by 20% for local authorities if this money is reinvested into local planning departments but see this as only a small part of the funding required to deliver an effective service.
“Like the Government, we recognise that those areas of greatest need, particularly in the south east, are also the most constrained in terms of future growth. Linden Homes supports Green Belt policy and acknowledges the key role this protectionist policy has played in shaping towns and cities over the last 60 years. However, if the current Government is committed to delivering a step change in housing delivery and dealing with this crisis it must support local authorities which are constrained by Green Belt to undertake early reviews and identify the right sites to consider for Green Belt release. Failure to address this key issue can only make the current problem worse.
“The White Paper also identifies the need to update the NPPF to assist further in delivering much needed new homes. In this regard, Linden Homes would caution against any amendment or change to the presumption in favour of sustainable development where local authorities have less than a five year housing land supply. The current policy has been one of the most successful national planning policies allowing developers to move forward in areas where local authorities are behind with their plan making or housing delivery.
“Linden Homes also welcomes the White Paper’s focus on a balanced housing market with initiatives for improving affordable, private rented and home ownership for everyone. The renewed support for first-time buyers through the lifetime ISA and Starter Homes is a very positive move. The shift in emphasis away from just focusing on owner-occupier properties to delivering a broader range of tenures, including homes to rent and intermediate tenures, is a welcome recognition, as is the acknowledgment that Starter Homes should form part of a package of affordable housing that responds to local needs.”
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