Developers will be allowed to build ‘what they like, where they like’ if councils fail to give permission for sufficient new housing schemes, a Conservative MP has said
John Howell, Parliamentary Private Secretary to Minister for Decentralisation Greg Clark, warned that if councils failed to plan for new development, it would be assumed that they had a ‘completely permissive planning system’.
As a result, he said a developer could build ‘what they like, where they like and when they like’, as long as they meet new national planning standards that are being worked on alongside the Localism Bill.
He stressed that the Government’s new planning system aimed to lead to more development, not less development.
Speaking at a seminar organised by the British Property Federation, he said: ‘I think that is an extremely good incentive for councils, when we have got waiting lists for housing and a community that doesn’t want to build anything - I cannot see how that would meet any future sustainability test.’
He added that the coalition’s presumption in favour of sustainable development would be a ‘golden thread’ running through the new planning system.
His comments were welcomed by the British Property Federation, which had expressed concerns that a move away from centralised targets to giving local authorities more power, could lead to fewer developments being granted planning permission.
Liz Peace, chief executive of the British Property Federation, said: ‘The property industry’s greatest fear was that the localism agenda would lead to greater nimbyism.
‘John’s comments have gone some way to easing these concerns with a clear emphasis on localism being used as a vehicle to drive growth and development rather than encouraging communities to opt out, effectively putting a leash on economic growth.’
It is estimated that the UK currently faces a shortage of around one million properties, and 232,000 new homes need to be built each year until 2033 to keep pace with rising demand.
But the number of properties built in 2009, the latest full year for which figures are available, sank to its lowest level for peacetime since 1923, with just 118,000 homes completed.