Government warned to continue planning reform or risk locking a generation out of the housing market

The Home Builders Federation (HBF) has warned the government that it must press on with its planning reforms, or risk a “house building ice age”.

HBF executive chairman Stewart Baseley said the “complete and utter nonsense” of the anti-development lobby must be dismissed or a generation of people will be unable to access the housing market.

Lobbyists and environmental charities have called for the final version of the National Planning and Policy Framework (NPPF) to exclude a presumption in favour of sustainable development, saying it should be delayed until local authorities have suitable housing plans in place.

In a speech to the Housing Market Intelligence conference, Baseley pointed out that councils have had since 2004 to ready their plans, yet under a third have done so.

He said: “To delay implementing the NPPF until local authorities do have a plan in place would leave us in a planning policy vacuum. It will prolong the limbo that has existed since the 2010 general election with the old system dead but yet to be replaced. The result in too many places would be a continued failure to plan for growth or address the housing crisis in their areas.”

Baseley also criticised the “brownfield first” protocol under which previously developed land would have to be used for house building ahead of any other, saying it would have a disempowering effect on local communities.

“A brownfield first policy makes no distinction between derelict, contaminated, regenerated or recreational land and what’s more, removes power from local people to decide on the future of their area. The NPPF approach is actually more sensibly focused and flexible and should result in better protection for land valued by a community.”

Around 5 million people (1.8 million families) in England are currently on local authority housing waiting lists. Despite this, the number of new homes completed in England in 2010 slumped 13% on the previous year, hitting its lowest peace-time level since 1923. The HBA claims planning permissions for homes that will be built over the coming years have collapsed to around half of where they should be.