'Housing zones' should avoid high numbers of small flats, says report

New homes built under the government's 'housing zones' initiative should meet a set of key planning principles including avoiding high numbers of small flats, according to a coalition of planning sector bodies.

Flats: coalition says large numbers should be avoided
Flats: coalition says large numbers should be avoided

The government’s Housing Zones Prospectus, published in August, set out how local authorities can apply for sites to be designated as a housing zone and how they can bid for a share of a £200 million government loan scheme to speed the delivery of homes on the sites.

Chancellor George Osborne announced plans for the creation of 30 housing zones in June. The Treasury said that the zones would see "all unnecessary planning restrictions" removed to boost house-building.

Part of this will include the use of local development orders to ease the planning consents process on brownfield sites.

In a statement today, the Smart Growth UK coalition, which includes the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE), Civic Voice and the Campaign for Better Transport, called for "strong minimum design standards" for the development of new housing zones.

Among its recommendations, the coalition said that zones should:

  • Only be designated within the built-up footprint of existing major urban areas;

  • Be in places well served with public transport, rail - based where possible, or where firm plans exist for their inclusion in such networks.

  • Have a mix of dwellings appropriate to the area. High proportions of small flats which tend to cause high population turnover should be avoided and the homes should aim to ensure a mixed community including families, couples, single people and older people.

  • Consider inclusion of substantial quantities of modern flexible housing for older people, given current projections predicting 79 per cent of new households will be over-55s. They might include zones primarily planned for older people.

Paul Miner, senior planning campaigner at CPRE, said: "We want to ensure the housing zones are well located, well designed and well served with public transport and other facilities".

"We need to be sure the zones become great places to live and work in. What we don’t want is poorly thought-through projects that confirm people’s prejudices against new development."

Brownfield Local Development Order Principles can be read here.

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