Planning system ‘holding us back’, says housing secretary
The Government is working up a national building design guide, according to housing secretary Robert Jenrick, as new developments “come at the expense of beauty and quality.”
On a local level, councils would be told to “design their own applicable guides reflecting local needs” as “what good looks like differs across the UK”.
Speaking on the main stage at the Conservtive Party Conference, Jenrick insisted “the guide will have real clout”.
Meanwhile, in a promise familiar to those in the planning profession, Henrick said he would seek to “simplify” the planning system, as it is “outdated, contradictory… holding us back.”
The proposals would be “the beginning of a planning revolution”.
Henrick also said he would be redoubling efforts to encourage homeownership as “the bulwark of individual freedom, bringing security, dignity and independence”.
The housing secretary announced that from January planning conditions would be eased to allow an extra two storeys to be added to homes, without needing to consult with neighbours. The new rules will apply to both apartment blocks and detached buildings.
Earlier in the day, chair of the Building Better, Building Beautiful Commission, Nicholas Boys-Smith, agreed the planning system had a lack of clarity and certainty, and called for the National Planning Policy Framework to “state as an axiomatic aim that buildings should be beautiful.”
Generally, discussion from Government ministers on housing at the conference was limited to soundbites rather than details on specific policies.
Speaking at an earlier Policy Exchange fringe event, housing minister Esther McVey said the country “has to think in creative ways, we’ve got to start thinking bigger than we were before.”
“The whole planning process from start to finish does need to be sped up,” she said, and pointed to a Government green paper due in the coming months to give clarity on the proposed reform.
“In some regards, the process is complicated and costly. Money should be spent on the product, rather than the process.”