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PPS3 HAS NOT BEEN WELL RECEIVED BY HOUSE BUILDERS

PLANNING

The new Planning Policy Statement 3 (PPS3) - Housing, published last year, will have a profound effect on residential development. Its reception has been overshadowed by Kate Barker's report, which suggests a contradictory direction for planning. Although a new planning White Paper is in the works, PPS3 is policy for now.

It has been particularly badly received by house builders. Roger Humber, adviser to the House Builders Association, says it is much worse than the draft. He focuses on paragraph 22, which reads: 'Local planning authorities should set out. . . the likely profile of household types requiring market housing.'

This, he says, is 'no less than the nationalisation of the industry, 21st-century style.'

Implementing PPS3 will require local authority market assessments and land availability surveys, thus slowing down further Local Development Framework plans.

Humber also points out that 'low-cost market housing' no longer qualifies as 'affordable'. This and the uncosted burden of ministerial intentions to achieve zerocarbon housing by 2016 could be 'utterly catastrophic', he says.

Architects are tasked with getting schemes through the ever more complex planning system, so an understanding of these issues matters. However, our main armoury is design.

CABE's Esther Kurland, writing in Planning in London ( www. planninginlondon. com), pulls out the design messages from PPS3. In summary:

paragraph 9 - Strategic Housing Policy Objectives.

PPS3 calls for decent homes, provided where people want to live. It sets two basic tests: the need for a high-quality product and building in the right place.

Both require good design;

paragraphs 10-11 - Planning for Housing Policy Objectives.

A key objective is: 'high-quality housing that is well designed'.

'Well-designed' means a process, not just a product;

paragraphs 12-19 - Achieving High-Quality Housing. Much of this section reiterates PPS1 policy. Once again we are told proposals should be making places better for people. But PPS3 goes into more detail.

It promotes sustainable homes, and suggests the use of the Code for Sustainable Homes as a tool, calling for 'innovative' designs. PPS3 also lists things to consider when assessing design quality, similar to the questions in Building for Life;

paragraphs 20-24 - Achieving a Mix of Housing. In the past it has been assumed that a mix of housing means mixed price and mixed tenure. Local planning authorities now have to set out housing sizes required. PPS3 reiterates the need to spatially mix housing and tenure types;

paragraphs 36-44 - Providing Housing in Suitable Locations.

This section pushes for the reuse of previously developed land - including gardens! It also mentions possible reviews of green belt designations in areas of high demand for housing.

PPS3 calls for a forwardthinking approach to backland development and the 'redesign of existing areas';

paragraphs 45-51 - Ef-cient Use of Land. The crude density matrix in draft PPS3 has been removed. A basic working minimum of 30 dwellings per hectare is retained. But the big policy is the call for locally set density ranges. London already has the London Plan matrix, but it is a new concept for many areas; and paragraphs 75-77 - Monitoring and Review.

Alongside the need to monitor housing permissions and completions sits a requirement to monitor design-quality objectives. This means design quality is a serious objective, not an added-on luxury.

Brian Waters is principal of the Boisot Waters Cohen Partnership.

Visit www. bwcp. co. uk

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