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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.’#


Readers' comments (5)

  • To anyone who either didn't live through the 80's or who suffers from amnesia, it was a Tory government who centralised power, marginalising local planning decision making in favour of a free-market economy. Don't be fooled.

    This form of 'shotgun partnerships' from central government will struggle to be implemented as historically they have. To attempt to put 'communities' under an all encompassing umbrella is a very difficult to achieve goal.

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  • Developers don't like the fact that they may not be able to rape and pillage the country for quite so much profit . . . my heart bleeds.

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  • Some local people actually want development in areas where local authorities haven't considered it - surely this is a bit of an own goal from the developers?

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  • Well the clue's in the title: Conservatives. They don't like change, not in their backyard!

    They proport to be the party of business, but it's already much harder to get planning permission from Tory councils.

    Housing shortages will only push their own house prices up, so why would they want to easy supply?It's not as if they care about ordinary people just wanting somewhere they can afford to live.

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  • Housing shortages: Makes me laugh every time I read this, as I pass the numerous vacant properties on my way around town. What is it, 1 million + vacant homes in the UK at the moment, plus an ever growing number of empty commercial units. This is before we factor in the number of empty BTLs / second homes fuelled by Gordon's funny money (print it fast, sell it cheap).

    We all understand the AJ has clear political loyalties, but that outcome can hardly be considered a resounding triumph by the incumbent government, can it?

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