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News Release


Government intervention in local plan process risks shifting the resource and skills shortage elsewhere

SOUTHAMPTON, October 13, 2015 – Responding to new Government measures that will be part of the Housing and Planning Bill, including the introduction of a deadline of 2017 for the creation of local plans for local authorities and automatic permission in principle on brownfield sites, David Ramsay, director at property consultancy JLL in Southampton, said:

David Ramsay“The Government’s efforts to speed up the delivery of new homes by intervening if local authorities fail to produce local plans by 2017 should broadly be welcomed, but there is a risk that with this measure comes the transfer of the planning skills and resource shortage we are seeing at a local level to Government level instead, thus shifting the problem elsewhere.

“Meanwhile, although brownfield redevelopment should be encouraged, a singular focus on this aspect of development is unworkable. Successive Governments have tried to encourage brownfield first approach, but unfortunately, many sites are too complicated or constrained to come forward quickly enough to plug the housing gap. Brownfield sites are also unlikely to deliver other benefits such as open space and affordable housing.

“I believe it is important that the Government considers Green Belt land for development in parallel to brownfield opportunities as there is much land within this category that is of poor quality – for example urban fringe and ex-commercial sites in the countryside - and could be developed to include affordable or starter homes. There is also a need for more surplus publicly-owned land to be brought forward for development which could deliver much needed housing and also provide income for local authorities.”
On the Government’s announcement that permitted development rights enabling the conversion of offices to residential will now be made permanent, David Ramsay added:

“News that permitted development rights have been extended is welcomed as this has ensured that many poorer quality offices have been converted to provide more housing. It will provide more certainty to those developers who have resisted applying for prior approval to convert offices to residential use due to the previous May 2016 deadline.  The conversion of offices has, in the Solent area for example, resulted in diminishing office stock with no short term signs of increased supply – a problem that will need to be rectified in the coming months to satisfy increasing demand.”