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08-Dec-2011 | General News

Bournemouth based town planning and development consultants Tanner & Tilley have welcomed the Government’s launch of a new housing strategy aimed at reigniting the housing market and getting the nation building again. However, they question whether Local Authorities in South East Dorset have the political will to embrace the new strategy.

Launched on 21st November by the Prime Minister, the Housing Strategy sets out a package of reforms aimed at getting the housing market moving again; laying the foundations for a more responsive, effective and stable housing market in the future; supporting choice and quality for tenants; and improving environmental standards and design quality.

Described by the Prime Minister as a ‘radical new strategy’, it aims to get the housing market, and in particular new house building, moving again. The Government sees this as being central for the country’s plans for economic growth and to provide for the hopes and plans of young people, families and to provide housing choice for older households.

The Governments Housing Strategy has been prompted by the fact that not enough new homes have been built for more than a generation and the impact of the credit crunch has simply compounded this challenge. The Strategy Report notes that in 2009/10, there were only 115,000 new build housing completions in England. Meanwhile, the latest household projections indicate that the number of households will grow on average by 232,000 per year until 2033.

To promote new house building the Government is promoting a number of new incentives including a new and innovative new build indemnity scheme led by the Home Builders Federation and Council of Mortgage Lenders to provide up to 95 per cent loan to value mortgages for new build properties in England, backed by a housebuilder indemnity fund.

The Government will also be consulting on a proposal to allow reconsideration of those planning obligations agreed prior to April 2010 where requirements of financial contributions from developers towards affordable housing, public open space and transport infrastructure have stalled development proceeding.

Other incentives include the establishment of a new £500 million Growing Places Fund which will support infrastructure that unblocks housing and economic growth. The Government also plan to launch a new £400 million ‘Get Britain Building’ investment fund, which will support building firms in need of development finance, including small and medium-sized builders.

As part of the strategy Government want the freeing up of public sector land which it is estimated will have the capacity to deliver up to 100,000 new homes and propose ‘Build Now, Pay Later’ deals to support builders who are struggling to get finance upfront.

In launching the new Housing Strategy, Eric Pickles MP, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, announced, “As well as taking action to get house building moving now, we are also laying the foundations for a more responsive, effective and stable housing market in the future.”

He continued, “We will provide more support for local areas that want to deliver larger scale new development to meet the needs of their growing communities – through locally planned large scale development – with a programme of support for places with the ambition to support new housing development on various scales.” This support comes in the form of the New Homes Bonus and the Community Infrastructure Levy which will reward Local Authorities that grant planning permission for new housing. These financial incentives are intended for investment within the communities within which development is to take place.

Whilst planning experts Tanner & Tilley welcome these incentives, they are concerned that meeting future housing needs within the Christchurch, Bournemouth and Poole conurbations will require a major step-change in the attitudes of existing residential communities and local authority Planners.

Peter Tanner, Managing Director of Tanner & Tilley explained, “The Government’s Housing Strategy is a wake-up call for Local Authorities. Whilst the implementation of the new National Planning Policy Framework aims to transform the Planning System into a positive force for good, I am concerned that little will be achieved unless we are able to win the hearts and minds of local communities into recognising that they share a responsibility in making appropriate provision for our housing needs, both for newly formed young households and in providing for greater housing choice for our aging population. The choice is simple. You can either plan to accommodate the housing growth by providing more homes in established residential areas or you provide for that growth on the fringes of our town and villages. In South East Dorset the only way the latter can be achieved whilst providing for the number of homes needed is by reviewing the Green Belt boundary.”

He said, “Local Authority Planners can no longer afford to be swayed by lobbying from the “Not In My Backyard” brigade. To provide households with an opportunity to access good quality housing in well designed neighbourhoods, we need to throw off the ‘draw-bridge mentality’ and start to engage with local communities to explore how they can play their part in providing for homes for the future.”

To find out more about the Government’s Housing Strategy for England go to http://www.communities.gov.uk/documents/housing/pdf/2033676.pdf Or contact Tanner & Tilley at planners@tanner-tilley.co.uk
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