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News Release

Birmingham

The politics of planning could stall housing growth

in the run up to the next election


Birmingham, 13th May, 2014 - Local planning expert, Peter Leaver, from JLL warns that a changing political landscape could spell trouble for developers and housebuilders if they don't get their planning applications in soon.
 
A well publicised tension within the Conservative party's core over UKIP's policies could mean that the Conservatives’ shift their position on planning as we get closer to the General Election.
 
Peter Leaver said: "UKIP appears to have struck a chord with some voters and right of centre Conservatives on a number of key topics and issues.  One of these IS the loss of  greenfield land for development, with this raised particularly at last year's county council elections.
 
"The Conservatives' dilemma will be whether they keep pushing housing and hope it will boost the wider economy to win votes, or row back to try and protect their core support.
"We only have to look back at history and see how perceived threats from a new political voice can alter a party's position and, ultimately, policy."
 
One of the biggest boosts to planning has been the launch of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF).  It has simplified the planning process and given developers all the tools it needs for generating greater housebuilding and getting more challenging schemes approved on greenfield land.
 
Peter adds: "Local authorities have been virtually powerless to resist planning applications on well located greenfield land where they cannot demonstrate a five year housing supply.  This is proving difficult for a lot of local authorities, as the NPPF requires their development plans to deliver 'objectively assessed' housing growth and the figures are imposed not on at a regional level but by Central Government."
 
Birmingham is an obvious case in point with the need to find 80,000 more houses over the next 20 years The Treasury has essentially taken over planning as it recognised the importance of the construction sector to the UK and how housing can make a quicker and bigger impact to the bottom-line than waiting for huge infrastructure projects such as HS2 to get off the ground.
 
Peter concludes: "As a consequence, the Localism agenda and the supposed bottom-up planning decisions have become more top down again.   Moreover, local authorities are being actively encouraged to renegotiate the best possible deals (for developers) in terms of affordable housing and other 106 agreement contributions to unlock schemes and make them viable for development."
 
With just over 12 months until a General Election in 2015, Peter's advice would be to seize this window of opportunity and get schemes sorted for development before politics dictates another sea change in planning.