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Row over government density plans

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Architects have described the government decision to scrap minimum density targets for housing and ban development on gardens as an ‘ideological kneejerk reaction’

Planning and decentralisation minister Greg Clarke yesterday (9 June) unveiled a number of measures to combat ‘cramped’ conditions unsuitable for families – the first step in the government’s radical overhaul of the planning system.

But Charlie Baker, project manager of Manchester-based Urbed, denounced the move.

Baker said: ‘The minimum requirement of 30 dwellings per hectare (dph) – equivalent to a Los Angeles suburb – is woefully unsuitable for this small island.’

MJP Architects director Duncan McKinnon agreed. He said: ‘They are confusing two separate things: the minimum density target and a lack of suitable family homes.’

‘Single family housing can be built at 100dph densities without resorting to ‘high-rise’ flats in a low-rise built form, which enhances the historic character of our existing towns and cities.’ Family accommodation in a London terrace is typically 50dph.

David Birkbeck, chief executive of Design for Homes, added: ‘If you asked the top 100 housebuilders “would you return to building at lower densities?” I doubt that more than one of them would say yes.’

But Robert Noel, managing director of Land Securities’ London portfolio, said removing the PPS3 ‘could only be good. It will allow local authorities to determine most appropriate densities and ensure schemes are brought forward in line with the housing need and local character.

‘We need to ensure design quality is again elevated as the key principle for decision making. Local authorities are best placed to make these judgments.’



Government to scrap minimum density targets and ‘garden grabbing’

The government is set to scrap minimum density targets for new housing and ban development on gardens

Greg Clarke, planning and decentralisation minister (pictured), is expected to make the announcement on Wednesday, marking the start of the government’s shake-up of the planning system.

The targets currently dictate at least 30 homes must be built on every hectare of land - a planning policy aimed at ensuring developments create the ‘critical mass’ to pay for amenity.

But the rule, which is part of part of Planning Policy Statement 3 (PPS3), has been blamed for delivering ‘cramped’ housing unsuitable for families.

Clarke will also announce an end to ‘garden grabbing’ policies which classify gardens as brown sites.

The Planning Officers Society criticised the move believing it will put pressure on greenbelt land. A spokesperson said: ‘if its garden grabbing out, then it may be countryside grabbing in.’


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Readers' comments (1)

  • 30 homes per hectare is hardly cramped! That's the same as a Los Angeles suburb.
    Isn't this just an idealogical kneejerk about families?

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