Constant tinkering of planning policy and short-term political reasons are hindering development
Despite the inevitable hand-wringing from the liberal left, the government is right to look at reducing the burden of duty on affordable housing provision in order to help kick-start stalled projects. But this does not address the fact that we have a fundamentally flawed approach to social housing in this country. Britain’s social housing sector is one of the largest in Europe, accounting for up to one fifth of the total. In Germany, a nation of stable prices and low rents, it’s 5%.
Even if the financial restrictions to development are lifted, we still have far too many barriers to building new homes. This is not about allowing our green
and pleasant land to be concreted over - although less than 10% of England’s surface area is actually developed - but allowing sustainable development to
provide the homes and jobs this country desperately needs.
Never in its 25-year-history has my company been forced to take so many planning applications to appeal, most of which relate to sites on brownfield land.
I attribute this to the uncertainty created by constant tinkering at the edges of planning policy, and the fact far too many local authorities block development for short-term political reasons. What we need is bold and decisive action. Without a complete overhaul of our planning system, these initiatives will fail to make much difference beyond producing a few favourable newspaper headlines.
Bob Weston, chairman and managing director, Weston Homes