Saturday 26 July 2014

"More people want more homes"

The Chief Secretary to the Treasury is advocating "a radical building programme needed over the 'longer term' to give people homes they can afford":
Danny Alexander: we need 300,000 new homes each year - Telegraph

Meanwhile, the Socia
l Attitudes survey results for last year have just come out - which some have interpreted as supporting this attitude to house-building:
British Social Attitudes survey 2013: attitudes to new house building - Publications - GOV.UK

The new Housing Minister has welcomed the figures:

Brandon Lewis MP: More people want more homes after our planning reforms

The Housing and Planning minister hails new official figures that show that support for new homes has risen dramatically, from 28 per cent in 2010 to 47 per cent in 2013, while opposition to new homes over the same period has fallen

Brandon Lewis, the high streets minister, said that it is “natural justice” for drivers to appeal parking fines Photo: GUZELIAN

By Brandon Lewis, Housing and Planning minister

10:00PM BST 25 Jul 2014

... Then came 2008, and the previous administration’s mismanagement of the economy created a storm so powerful that the entire stage collapsed in a heap.

Across the country housebuilding plummeted to its lowest peacetime level since the 1920s, and no amount of string pulling by Whitehall could untangle the mess. In fact, it made the problem worse.

This was our inheritance when the Coalition Government took office in 2010.

A housing market in disarray, where the lenders wouldn’t lend, the builders couldn’t build and the buyers couldn’t buy. And at the heart of this failure was a puppet show masquerading as a planning system.

It’s why we decided to separate the Ministerial portfolios on housing and planning, so one Minister could devote all their energies to radically overhauling the system.

It’s a job that has been brilliantly executed over the last four years by my predecessors Greg Clark and Nick Boles. Regional Strategies have been scrapped, thousands of pages of Government “guidance” have been streamlined, and local communities have been put back in control.

Those reforms are now complete. That’s why the Prime Minister has decided to reunite the housing and planning portfolios, and I am delighted to have been appointed the new Minister of State for both.

We have set the stage for local areas to build the homes they need. That means councils and communities can decide together what to build and where, whether that’s a handful of homes, or a new Garden City.

At the same time we have given the housing market a boost by helping tens of thousands of first time buyers purchase new build homes, re-starting construction on stalled housing schemes and releasing surplus brownfield land for development.

The results are clear to see. Despite challenging economic conditions, 445,000 homes have been built since July 2010, housebuilding is at its highest level since 2007, and mortgage approvals are on the rise, with mortgage borrowing in June 24% higher than the same month last year.

The construction sector has also been growing for 14 consecutive months, and companies are taking on new workers at the fastest rate for 17 years.

Housebuilding is moving in the right direction, underpinned by strong economic growth and low interest rates. Last week’s employment figures showed we are creating three times as many jobs as the rest of the EU put together. And yet we build significantly fewer homes than our European neighbours.

We still need to do more, but I am optimistic. For the simple reason that the prospects for future development will not be decided by what we are currently building, but what people are currently thinking.

That’s why I was delighted to read the British Social Attitudes Survey on housebuilding, which I am publishing today. It shows that since the introduction of our planning reforms support for new homes has risen dramatically, from 28 per cent in 2010 to 47 per cent in 2013, while opposition to new homes over the same period has fallen from 46 per cent in 2010 to 31 per cent in 2013.

This changing mind-set can now be seen in the pipeline of projects coming through the reformed planning system. Last year successful applications for major housing schemes were up 23 per cent, and planning permissions were granted for 216,000 new homes.

The new planning system puts local people in control, so if they want to build more homes, they will...

My job now is to ensure communities have the help they need to build the homes they want...

Related Articles
New planning minister suggests Nimbys have had their day 25 Jul 2014
Britain is nothing without fields and hedgerows 13 Jun 2014
Number of new housing estates jumps by a quarter since planning reforms04 May 2014
William Wordsworth would be in 'fits' about planning reforms, says Sir Andrew Motion 25 Apr 2014
Sir Simon Jenkins: 'We are creating Detroits in the north while we are eating up the countryside' 28 Mar 2014
Developers to get incentives to build new homes in towns and cities 06 Mar 2014

Brandon Lewis MP: More people want more homes after our planning reforms - Telegraph

Meanwhile, the Conservative Home blog notes that the Minister chose to make his comments in the very newspaper which has been campaigning against more housing - 'Hands Off Our Land' as the 'home of Nimbyism' as it were:
Is Nimbyism in decline? | Conservative Home
Futures Forum: Telegraph campaign: Hands off Our Land
Hands Off Our Land - Telegraph

The Telegraph in turn has picked up comments on the Minister's views:

New planning minister suggests Nimbys have had their day

Brandon Lewis appears to suggest that Nimbyism is on the wane as he hails official figures showing a big jump in the proportion of Britons wanting new houses built near their homes

The Coalition has faced significant controversy over its decision to rip up 1,200 pages of planning protections and replace them with a new planning rulebook, known as the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF), with a new bias in favour of sustainable development. Some claimed the reforms amounted to the greatest threat to the countryside since the Second World War.

In 2011, Greg Clark, the then planning minister, caused anger after saying that critics of the changes were behaving with “nihilistic selfishness”. His remarks prompted protests from groups such as the National Trust. The Telegraph launched a campaign against the changes, called ‘Hands Off Our Land’. The Coalition was ultimately forced to make changes to the framework because it became law in 2012.

But campaigners warned that many communities, particularly in rural areas, were battling unsuitable development from builders who were taking advantage of a bias in favour of sustainable development in the NPPF.

Shaun Spiers, chief executive of the Campaign to Protect Rural England, dismissed the report as a “propaganda bulletin” for the Government’s planning reforms. He said: “The new minister suggests Nimbyism is dead but we know lots of communities are very concerned about poorly-sited housing on their doorsteps. It is very good news if more people are in favour of house building, but I think it is a bit hopeful to suggest that this is down to the Government’s planning reforms.”

Clive Betts MP, the chairman of the Communities and Local Government committee which is investigating the planning reforms, said: “It shows is that there is an increase in the understanding that we are short of housing and need to built more. Even if people have got a home, they have worries about their children getting one – getting a home for the next generation. There is evidence that the planning reforms are working in some places and not in others. I am not sure it is accurate to link the planning reforms in 2012 to a sign change in public attitudes between 2010 and 2013.”

Steve Turner, from the Home Builders Federation, said the findings of the survey were “extremely positive” and pointed to a “growing acceptance of the need for more homes”.

The British Social Attitudes study surveyed 3,000 people in 2010, and then 1,000 in 2013. The study also found that opposition to housing has fallen most among those aged 65 and over, from 52 per cent in 2010 to 30 per cent in 2013.

New planning minister suggests Nimbys have had their day - Telegraph

The East Devon Alliance blog suggests "Brandon Lewis seems to be taking the mantle of his predecessor, Nick Boles, with ease" - and quotes from the National Trust:
“NIMBYs have had their day” says new planning minister | East Devon Alliance

The EDA prints a letter to the Telegraph from a member organisation of the Community Voice on Planning:


26th July 2014

Dear [Daily Telegraph] Editor,

This morning’s headline story (Minister: Nimbys have had their day – 26 July) in the Daily Telegraph beggars belief!

What on earth will it take to get the current government, and Brandon Lewis in particular, to wake up and smell the abject disbelief amongst the rural community in particular that “people now have a greater say in where housing goes”. A survey of only 3000 people in 2010 compared with a similar one of only 1000 in 2013 certainly does NOT compare with the responses registered with Community Voice on Planning (www.covop.org) and is remarkably thin evidence upon which to trumpet the progress of national government policy. If ministers quote from such a small sample it only serves to reinforce what the community has been saying for years – our ministers’ dogmatic presumptions hold sway in spite of the real world situation they are attempting to govern.

Those of us who have raised the uncontrolled inappropriate development rush issue – for in practice that is EXACTLY what it is at present, are NOT against development per se. What we are infuriated over is the repeated examples of poor strategic planning by local authorities. This is exacerbated by blatant exploitation of land-banking by developers – invariably on the easiest of development land, ie green spaces, who then make all sorts of promises of affordable home provision to gain outline planning permission only to renege subsequently by pleading non-viability once permission is gained and requisite infrastructure costs imposed; local authorities then invariably buckle under threat of legal costs of appeal and the developers get their way.

Construction of the open market houses doesn’t begin until the developer feels like it and the 5 year housing supply doesn’t get updated until they do. This leads to more applications while the going is good and infrastructure improvements to support any of this cannot be funded until the houses are built.

The community has NO say in this process yet it gives our blinkered politicians a warm and cuddly feeling that everything is going well! Oh really?

Paul S G Adams MBE
DefeND North Devon

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