Home delivery

Developers, civil servants, planning authorities, consultants and lawyers congregated in London earlier this month for the two day Planning for Housing conference.

The event focussed on how delegates could work together to secure more allocations of sites for housing, more permissions for housing schemes, and swifter delivery of homes once they have been consented.

Some of the themes to have emerged from the event are reported elsewhere in the magazine (see News Analysis p11): the anticipated impact of new elements of government policy such as the new standard method for assessing housing need; the planned staffing growth in the government’s Homes England agency, and the concurrent shortage of expert planners; and various notes of caution being sounded about the prospects of new land value uplift capture methods securing significantly more money for the public purse to spend on the infrastructure needed to support housing development.

But there were other recurring themes as well. Many speakers spoke about the key role publiclyowned land, and public-private partnership, would have to play if housing delivery was to be stepped up. Homes England executive director for land Stephen Kinsella said several government departments were due to launch initiatives to unlock publicly-owned land. Angela Harrowing, deputy director at the cabinet Office’s Office of Government Property, said that government experts would be made available to work with local authorities to explore how rationalisation of public land assets can help deliver homes. Tom Sykes, projects design manager at mayoral adviser Transport for London, said his organisation aimed to build 10,000 homes on its landholdings by 2021. Sara Parkinson, senior planning manager at developer Galliford Try Partnerships, urged boroughs that were short on development skills to look to the private sector for help.

These potential new roles for public bodies, as sellers of land or developers, could potentially raise issues, speakers suggested. One speaker argued that councils’ views on the importance of land prices assuming that any subsequent schemes built thereon were compliant with planning policy differed according to which hat they were were wearing. As planning authorities, they expected an assumption of total policy compliance. As landowners, they did not. Separately, Royal Town Planning Institute policy officer Tom Kenny said more understanding was needed of the potential tension between councils’ roles as planning authorities and housing providers.

The sponsors were: Indigo, Pegasus Group, Pinsent Masons, Tetlow KIng Planning, WYG and WECD.

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