Government pledges 'strengthened' planning guidance to boost social housing

The government is to 'strengthen' planning guidance to encourage new affordable homes 'to be designed to the same high quality as other tenures and well integrated within developments', according to its social housing green paper, published today.

Social housing: green paper published
Social housing: green paper published

According to a statement from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, the green paper "aims to rebalance the relationship between tenants and landlords, tackle stigma and ensure that social housing can be both a safety net and springboard into home ownership".

The document says that the new National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) is designed to ensure that the planning system "can deliver high-quality buildings and places".

"We want to ensure this is applied to social housing in the right way, as part of the guidance which will be published later this year," it says.

The green paper says the advice will:

  • strengthen planning guidance to take into account the principles of Secured by Design to ensure that external spaces, parks, streets and courts are well lit and maintained so they are safe from crime and the fear of crime;
  • strengthen guidance to encourage healthy and active communities, building on the NPPF’s healthy and safe communities chapter;
  • strengthen guidance to encourage new affordable homes to be designed to the same high quality as other tenures and well integrated within developments;
  • encourage design that reflects changing needs - for example, inclusive design for an ageing population and family housing at higher densities to ensure effective use of land.

The document says the government "is aware that too often local people hear about schemes after a planning application has been submitted".

It says the revised NPPF "makes clear that communities should be engaged early in shaping local design policies". However, it also seeks views on how social housing residents can be encouraged "to be involved in the planning and design of new developments".

David Orr, chief executive of the National Housing Federation, which represents social landlords, welcomed publication of the green paper, but added: "Without significant new investment in the building of more social housing, it is very hard to see how it can be a 'safety net and springboard' for all the people who desperately need it.

"Our ambition for the green paper is that it sets a course for a future where everyone can access a quality home they can afford. To do that we need to build 90,000 new social rent homes every year."

Consultation on the green paper will run until 6 November 2018.

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