Responding to a Planning magazine reporter, Mike Kiley, Chair of POS, has suggested five key areas for the new government to address:
1. The housing crisis, especially in southern England, has to be the main issue. The previous coalition government just tinkered with it. There has been no strategic direction. The Duty to Cooperate is not working in many places and some significant public policy initiatives are needed. We need interventions that realistically address supply issues as well as looking intelligently at affordability.
- Redefine the meaning of "deliverable" in NPPF to avoid perfectly developable sites not counting because developers are "playing the system".
- Introduce CPO powers to allow LPAs to take over sites that are allocated or have consent and have not come forward - otherwise known as "Use It or Lose It".
- Introduce measures to force empty new properties to be occupied - "buy-to-leave" is a very significant problem in London.
- Look in detail at why PRS is at such a small scale and so poor quality in the UK and what we need to do to get large scale institutional investment into a massive expansion of this housing sector - other major European and North American cities can do it so why can we?
2. Funding infrastructure is vitally important and with severe reductions in public funding, the role that the development process can play in providing funding will increase in importance. Changes to CIL Regulations over recent years have not been helpful and a readjustment of this complex area of legislation would enable a much needed boost to the delivery of more sustainable development.
3. The planning system has become more and more complicated with over 50 acts of Parliament dealing with planning and related matters. A consolidating review of this legislation is long overdue to replace them with a consistently drafted set of about eight new Acts, each dealing with a discrete topic area. A process similar to the Red Tape Challenge should be initiated with the sector to see how planning procedures can be genuinely streamlined as part of this process.
4. Funding LPAs is a problem that will get worse. Much of the development sector agree that well-funded planning teams that delivers a good service are vital and they are willing to contribute more to fund such a service.
5. Recent changes to the UCO and GPDO have caused many unintended consequences in the development and property market that are distorting land values, making the delivery of development more difficult and not delivering the housing that was the point of the changes. We have forgotten that one of the roles of the planning system in the UK is to create a stable investment platform for property investment. Government have now introduced national housing space standards, yet the various PD regimes produce schemes that are substantially sub-standard (units as small as 13.5 m2) but thankfully these are not coming forward that often because financial institutions are refusing funding for them. Is having the banks as design champions what we really want?