UK residential property planning regime ‘neglects social housing’

By Bridging Loan Directory -

 

Lawyers will be among the main beneficiaries of a new UK planning system that could create an undersupply of residential, an audience heard this week at a seminar organised by the British Property Federation (BPF) according to IP Real Estate.

Government minister Greg Clark said the new National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) replaced a previous system that had had been “too lacking in positivity”.

“It’s an absolute requirement of the demeanour of planning to be positive,” he said. “We do want to have things built, and we should be looking for ways to solve problems in the spirit of creativity.”

Gary Yardley – investment director at CapCo, which is currently seeking planning permission for a 22-acre prime residential regeneration project – said uncertainty in the short and medium term would result in development delays.

“It’s difficult to find anything in it that helps developers, especially of large-scale schemes,” he said. “It needs to be kept under review.”

He added that, at least in the capital, the requirement that developers pay a community infrastructure levy – effectively, a tax levied by local authorities on new developments – would likely act as a deterrent to housing developers.

“Whatever the government says, there’s a question whether any social housing will be built whatsoever,” he said.

“I agree we need balanced communities and different levels of affordability within developments. If it turns out we have minimal social housing, can that be right?”

Other panellists pointed to conflation in the framework between sustainable growth and sustainable development, and to likely legal challenges over terms such as ‘significantly’ and ‘demonstrably’.

James Fennell, managing director at consultancy Nathanial Lichfield & Partners, said: “The inevitable consequence is that much of this will be worked out in the courts.

“Developers put more effort into their planning applications than local authorities make in developing their local plans.”

Despite considerable ambiguity over adjectives, Carter Jonas partner Nick Taylor said:

“There will be an increase in appeals, yes, but it won’t be dramatic.”