Big hitters to fight Tory 'localism' proposals
Some of the UK’s biggest property companies have banded together to lobby against Conservative local planning policies, according to reports
Developers including Countryside Properties and Land Securities will launch Building Futures, a group that argues Tory plans to give local people and councillors more power over planning could lead to projects being rejected for political rather than practical reasons, The Sunday Times reported.
According to an independent survey commissioned by Building Futures, 57 per cent of councillors think current housing targets are too high, and only 14 per cent thought they were too low.
The group claims this could stifle development if local groups and authorities grew more powerful, particularly affecting areas developers say are in desperate need of new housing, such as the east of England, south west and south east, the newspaper reported.
Building Futures plans to present the survey results to shadow local government and planning minister Bob Neill, and Emma Cariaga, head of strategic projects at Land Securities, told The Sunday Times it will lobby for a national planning framework in favour of development.
‘We want applications to be treated fairly and judged on merit, not on the basis of instincts or political whims. Weakness in the planning system will threaten economic recovery,’ she said.
The Conservatives full proposals, which have been hinted at for months, are finally expected to unveiled later this month (January).
Previous story (02.11.09)
Conservatives vow to give power back to local villagers
The Conservatives have revealed plans to allow local residents to build housing in rural villages, which have become dominated by second homeowners
Under the proposals, people could set up community groups to organise their own building projects and bypass councils.
According to an article in the Sunday Times villages in beauty spots could expand by up to 10 per cent over the next decade.
The plans mirror a scheme in Rock – a popular Cornwall destination nicknamed Chelsea-on-Sea – where residents set up a local housing trust to build a development of affordable homes only available to locals.
Last week the British Property Federation published a new report, Making Localism Deliver, responding to conservative party policies which would incentivise councils to streamline planning processes and to encourage new developments.
Tax Increment Financing (TIF), which is widely used in America, is one of the main ideas included in the proposals. Under the system current and future income streams from new developments are explicitly tied in to financing bonds or an investment vehicle to pay for new infrastructure associated with the development.
The much-delayed Battersea Power Station development could be one of the first to benefit, as it is being considered by the government officials as a TIF case study
British Property Federation chief executive Liz Peace welcomed the plans, adding: ‘If done properly, localism could mean a smoother planning process, quicker decision-making and better engagement. The property industry is committed to working closely with councils, but they will have to be given significant support to make this work.
‘Poorly implemented localism – as a result of inadequate resources – could lead to greater delays, ultimately reducing the attractiveness of the UK as a place to invest. This is of particular concern in relation to smaller councils when faced with the challenge of delivering large one-off regeneration schemes.’#