General assembly calls for strategy to deliver more housing

The general assembly met in London on 3 October to consider the government's housing green paper proposals.

The assembly urged the government to recognise the need for housing growth through the preparation of a spatial housing framework that directs growth and enables communities to be more involved in developments.

The assembly warned the government against poorly planned measures. It advised that proposals for eco-towns and growth points should be brought forward through national, regional and local plans, with measures put in place to ensure that delivery is suitably timely. Decisions that affect housing should be taken at the correct level of government and the necessary resources must be committed by national, regional and local agencies, authorities and providers as a result of closer partnerships.

At the regional level in England, plans are now to be prepared within enlarged development agencies. These agencies need a different culture, appropriately qualified staff, information resources and a democratic engagement with communities to deliver results. The assembly also advised the government to focus on sustainability and quality. It must avoid the 1960s practice of constructing housing that fails residents and eventually requires demolition.

The RTPI welcomed the government's announcement that it is withdrawing the planning gain supplement (PGS) and replacing it with a plan-based system. The RTPI has consulted with the government on such plan-based alternatives, including a statutory planning charge designed to capture uplift in land value when planning permission is granted and provide funding for much-needed housing infrastructure. It is a positive recognition of the spatial nature of development, joining up local frameworks with the provision of services that allow communities to thrive.

RTPI policy director Rynd Smith said: "Planners have provided the government with clear evidence of the scale of expenditure necessary to support its housing growth plans and we welcome the adoption of an alternative to the PGS based on local infrastructure plans. However, these are not the only issues that communities are concerned about. We call on the government to assure us that its spending provisions will develop and maintain high-quality places across a wide range of social, economic and environmental measures."

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