It’s all very well delivering small schemes but what about larger, infrastructure boosting developments?
Over the past couple of years I have sat in numerous meetings with Grant Shapps and heard him repeatedly commit to increase housebuilding. I believe that there is a genuine realisation in government of the need to increase provision and a desire to meet the commitment.
But I think only now, having taken office, is it dawning on ministers just how difficult it is to meet that commitment, especially considering the monumental changes to how housing delivery is proposed under therm “localism”.
The proposals undoubtedly create uncertainty and as yet we cannot say whether they will allow more homes to be built. What is certain is that the industry and Local Authorities urgently need absolute clarification on policy detail, such as how the New Homes Bonus will work and how neighbourhood and development plans will address housing requirements if Localism is to have any chance of success at all.
Already some local authorities are using the uncertainty as an excuse to reduce house building targets – especially in the South where there is most demand. And whilst the proposed system may deliver small, local schemes, it is less clear how larger strategic developments that require joined up, cross boundary and long term planning will be delivered. It is these types of schemes that provide the majority of new homes and infrastructure that local communities so frequently argue is essential to any further development in their back yards, yet are the very type of development that localism is most likely to resist.
Andrew Whitaker is planning director at HBF