Green Party pledges to remove central government involvement in housing need calculations

The Green Party's 2019 general election manifesto has pledged to amend the National Planning Policy Framework to allow local authorities to calculate their own housing need.

Activists at the launch of the Green Party 2019 general election manifesto. Image by John Blower, Flickr
Activists at the launch of the Green Party 2019 general election manifesto. Image by John Blower, Flickr

The policy is among a raft of planning-related announcements in the party’s manifesto, which is titled If Not Now, When?.

The party’s policy on housing numbers implies that Greens would scrap the government’s standard method for calculating housing need, introduced at the beginning of this year.

In a section on the natural environment, the manifesto promises to "amend the National Planning Policy Framework so it no longer imposes centrally set development targets on local councils.

"We will allow councils to develop their own planning policies, based on genuine local housing need and their requirement to contribute to the creation of at least 100,000 new council homes a year nationally."

The policy says that councils would be required to deliver these new homes "in a way that preserves local ecology and creates new green spaces".

The party also pledges to give councils the freedom to set their own planning fees.

"Tax payers," the manifesto says, "are subsidising developers for the costs of their planning applications to the tune of £200 million a year – councils need the power to meet these planning costs not from central funds, but from charging developers realistic fees for the planning services councils provide for them."

Elsewhere, the party also promises to strengthen protections for the green belt, areas of outstanding natural beauty and sites of special scientific interest.

However, it is unclear how its promise that development in these areas would "only be permitted in exceptional circumstances" differs from existing policy.

In a pledge elsewhere in the manifesto, the party says that it would amend planning and building regulations to ensure that all new buildings built by private developers are built to the energy-efficient Passivhaus standard or equivalent.

Also on housing, the Greens pledge to change the planning system to incentivise renovation, extension and improvement of existing buildings, rather than relying on new build.

It says that this would "reduce the use of steel, concrete, cladding and finishes, which produce massive amounts of carbon in their manufacture".

The party also says it would change the planning system to prevent building on flood plains.

In a section dealing with industry, the manifesto outlines plans to encourage the renovation of non-domestic buildings, "through making planning consent harder to achieve for new commercial property".

On energy, it also promises more changes to the planning system to support a "massive increase" in wind power and other renewable generation.

A section on transport includes a proposal to require the creation of a network of electric vehicle charging points through the planning system and encouraging the private sector to deliver them.

New planning rules would also ensure that all new housing is served by walking and cycling routes and improved public transport, the manifesto says.

"New residents must not be forced into car use," the manifesto says. 

A number of policies affecting the planning system are included in a section on food, farming and forestry.

The first of these would encourage, through the planning system, the "rewilding" of spaces to provide new habitats for wildlife.

Secondly, planning changes would be used to encourage urban food growing, including new community farms and allotments.

A Planning analysis piece examining the planning promises expected in other parties' general election manifestos can be read here. 

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