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Lords committee calls for Government to change course on housing

19 February 2016

CPRE today welcomes the first report from a new cross-party House of Lords select committee on the built environment.

The Building better places report, from the National Policy for the Built Environment Committee, criticises the Government’s housing policy and argues that it is unlikely to provide either the quantity or quality of homes we need.

More precisely, the report:

  • calls for local authorities and housing associations to play a more significant role in delivering new homes
  • suggests that the Government has not done enough to address the gap between permissions and completions
  • calls for a brownfield first policy
  • advocates financial penalties for developers who fail to build quickly - the equivalent to paying council tax on unbuilt homes
  • argues that Green Belt protection needs to be tightened
  • shows concern about starter homes qualifying as affordable housing
  • advocates a community right of appeal

Paul Miner, planning campaign manager at the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE), gave oral and written evidence to the committee. His evidence was referenced in the report.

Paul comments:

“The Government is constantly focusing on speeding up the planning process, but there is no evidence that cheaper and quicker planning means better decisions for local people.

“This cross-party committee sees that we need a different course to build the genuinely affordable homes we need and support local people in creating thriving communities.

“We should be encouraging builders to build on the sites they already have permission for, pursuing a brownfield first policy, and dispelling the myth that starter homes are a solution for people in need of affordable housing.”

On Green Belt, Paul adds:

“The Government has been waving through too many changes to the Green Belt via local plans.

“The committee is right to identify the need for rules around ‘exceptional circumstances’ to be tightened, so that we can prevent urban sprawl and focus on redeveloping the suitable brownfield land within our cities.”

CPRE strongly welcomes the cross-party support for a community right of appeal. The Government has continually declined to introduce the measure. Paul Miner comments:

“A community right of appeal would reassure communities that their aims and aspirations are not being ignored.”

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