Local plans should include 'strategic consideration' of small sites, report says

Councils should be required to include in their local plans a 'strategic consideration' of the contribution that small sites can make to housing delivery, a report has recommended.

Builders: report says that planning system is key to supporting small firms
Builders: report says that planning system is key to supporting small firms

The report, Small is beautiful, by housbuilding lobby group the Federation of Master Builders (FMB) and research and information organisation the Local Government Information Unit (LGiU), sets out a series of recommendations on how the planning system can increase the delivery of new homes on small sites.

Among its recommendations, the report says that local planning authorities "should be required to include within their local plans a strategic consideration of the contribution that small sites can make to local housing delivery, and how they can enable this to come forward".

The report says that this could include a short set of principles on things such as what the council considers a small site, whether small sites will be approached differently to other sites and how small sites fit with wider strategic goals.

The report also recommends:

  • Councils "should seek to reduce complexity and uncertainty in the application process, through the use of coordinating codes, where appropriate, and through early engagement on key issues like conditions and Section 106 obligations".
  • Government should consider "establishing a pilot ‘Small Sites Expert Task Force’ to develop best practice and act as a source of expert advice on how to enable small scale development".
  • Councils "should set up internal ‘Small Sites Working Groups’, and/or co-locate housing and planning teams to ensure consistency of approach across the council".
  • Councils should pool and share staff, skills and resources on a regional basis "in order to be able to draw on the broadest range of skills and develop expertise in enabling small sites".
  • Central government should give councils the power to set and vary planning fees locally "where extra revenue can be ring-fenced and good service levels guaranteed".

Small is beautiful can be read here.

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