Oxford: Savills comments on Housing White Paper

The White Paper, recognises that the ‘broken housing market’ is one of the greatest barriers to progress faced by the country, commented Roger Smith, director and Savills‘ head of planning in Oxford.

Smith added that the White Paper “rightly identifies that the planning system has a significant role to play in ensuring the delivery of homes to support sustainable growth”.

“Ensuring that local authorities have adequate resources is a key component improving the planning process and speeding up delivery. The proposed increase in planning fees by 20% this year, and with potential for a further 20% for high performing authorities, needs to be dedicated to improving local authority planning services so that it secures delivery of new homes and sustainable development.

“The White Paper confirms that the Government will consult on options for introducing a more standardised approach to assessing housing requirements and will require Local Plans to be reviewed at least every five years.

“Simplification of the process by which housing need is assessed is a step in the right direction, so long as that method provides a robust estimate of the true scale of need.  The suggestion to review and fix housing land supply on an annual basis, through consultation and discussion between authorities, developers and infrastructure providers will be a challenge and demand scarce resources.   

“The White Paper reaffirms the protection given to the Green Belt.  It makes it clear that Green Belt boundaries should only be amended where all other reasonable options for meeting their development requirements have been examined. This is the approach that the Secretary of State has recently confirmed in relation to the Birmingham Plan.

“In addition to that is the  requirement for compensatory measures to offset the impacts of loss of Green Belt, including environmental or access improvements, which recognises that there are opportunities where development takes place to improve the value of remaining Green Belt land for wider public benefits.”