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Housebuilders warn of 'building ice age' if planning reform stalls

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The Housebuilders have urged the Government to stick to its contentious planning proposals or risk a ‘house building ice age’

The executive chairman of the Home Builders Federation (HBF) Stewart Baseley said the ‘complete and utter nonsense of the anti-development lobby’ must be ignored and the government’s ‘presumption in favour of sustainable development’ brought in without delay to avoid a housing disaster.

Stalling over the ‘presumption’ - the centrepiece of the emerging National Planning and Policy Framework (NPPF) - would prolong planning vacuum and allow councils to postpone planning for their areas, claims the HBF.

According to the Federation, some campaigners have been calling for the ‘presumption’ clause and the NPPF to be put on ice until local authorities have drawn up suitable housing plans.

However Baseley has attacked this ‘anti-development’ proposal, pointing out that while local authorities have had since 2004 to put plans in place yet in all that time less that a third done so.

He said: ‘To delay implementing the NPPF until local authorities do have a plan in place would leave us in a planning policy vacuum. It will prolong the limbo that has existed since the 2010 General Election with the old system dead but yet to be replaced.

‘The result in too many places would be a continued failure to plan for growth or address the housing crisis in their areas.’

Baseley went on to criticise calls for a ‘brownfield first’ policy in which previously developed land has to be used for housebuilding ahead of other sites, including those in the greenbelt.

He added: ‘A brownfield first policy makes no distinction between derelict, contaminated, regenerated or recreational land and what’s more, removes power from local people to decide on the future of their area. The NPPF approach is actually more sensibly focused and flexible and should result in better protection for land valued by a community.’

Factfile

Last year saw just 103,000 homes built in England, the lowest peace time number since 1923, against a need for 250,000; while planning permissions for homes that will be built over the coming years have collapsed to around half of where the HBF’s believes they should be.

 

ve collapsed to around half of where they should be.

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