DCLG official: no centrally imposed new towns

The government will not centrally impose new settlements on communities that do not want them, a senior Department of Communities and Local Government (DCLG) civil servant has said.

DCLG director of planning, Shona Dunn, was speaking at the Town and Country Planning Association (TCPA) annual conference in London this morning alongside the DCLG's chief planner, Steve Quartermain.

Dunn made her comments the day after planning minister Nick Boles announced that he wanted to see more open land in England - from 9 per cent up to 12 per cent - used to build new settlements to meet the country's growing housing need.

Responding to a question about whether the government would act centrally to create a new garden city, Dunn said: "This government has been very clear from the outset. They consider that efforts to impose new communities of any type on places does not work and just ends up putting you in a situation where you spend an enormous amount of energy to create a great deal of resistance.

"They are very clear that although there is a very grave need to increase housing supply, that has to be done through a bottom-up approach.

"I think there's very little intention on [the government's] part to impose large settlements on communities that don't want them."

The former government chief planner Mike Ash, now vice-president of the TCPA, who asked Dunn the question, said he thought the government was not going far enough to meet the housing need and called for new garden cities to be built under the New Towns Act.

He said: "We've had a variety of ministers stand up and say: 'We must get local authorities to deliver more homes' and we are where we are now. I personally don't think that's ever going to work."

Asked about Boles' plans to release more open land for development, Dunn said: "I don't think it's news that the government thinks that housing supply needs to be increased very significantly.

"And if you are going to do that, there's an inevitable consequence you need land to build on."

Dunn said there were "some very positive signs" that local authorities were beginning to meet housing needs in their areas.

She also said that neighbourhood planning was helping communities to accept the need for development and addressing their fear of change.

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