The housing crisis in England is well documented – we are in dire need of the right homes in the right places.
With only circa 222,000 homes delivered in 2018, compared to the government target of 300,000, something needs to happen – and soon.
But how can the planning system respond to facilitate this need? The National Audit Office published a report this year which says that the planning process in the UK needs to be urgently reformed and speeded up if government is to reach ambitious housebuilding targets by the mid-2020s.
Perhaps a return to Regional Planning is an option, this would return the responsibility to determining housing need to a regional level and avoid the difficulties associated with the ‘duty to cooperate’. Or could Deregulation be the answer? Relaxing the system and giving developers greater freedom to build homes? However, the planning system is there for a reason and serves to protect our green space and allow ‘appropriate development’, so this must still be considered.
Permitted Development Rights have gone some way to free things up, enabling a national grant of planning permission to allow certain works and changes of use without making a planning application. Taking this further could offer a solution to the problem, but this would have to be carefully managed and is already not a popular tool with some policitians.
The answer is not yet clear, but one thing is certain, with the high street in turmoil, changes in working patterns and numerous technological advances affecting how we use our land and built resources, the planning system must be able to respond flexibly and quickly.
For developers and landowners, the need to have a reliable and trusted consultant to guide them through the process has never been greater.