Bold moves are needed to address our housing shortage and an initial government response on proposed changes to the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) do not go far enough, says a North East planning specialist.
Jon Tweddell, director of JT Planning, based in Northumberland says: “There is mixed opinion on the recently published consultation draft, but many do not think it goes far enough to tackle the housing crisis and increase the output of affordable homes. I tend to agree.
“There are some interesting changes that I do feel will help, but in my opinion more fundamental changes around Green Belt policy are needed if we are to realise the 300,000 new homes in England per year.”
When the NPPF was first published in 2012 under the Conservative/Liberal Democrat Coalition, it was a significant shift from previous policy and was seen as a game changing moment. It was published during the financial crisis and was one step that the government took to help increase house building. It has only partially worked.
Jon Tweddell says: “The Conservatives have taken a stricter stance on Green Belt development. We have experienced this first hand in places like Northumberland where a new administration scrapped their Core Strategy because they said it would have seen the county ‘concreted over’ with new housing.
“But bold moves are required to address the country’s housing problems. The consultation draft NPPF continues to afford a lot of protection to Green Belt; developing it is seen an absolute last resort. I disagree with this approach.
“Previous policy of developing previously-developed (brownfield) sites within settlements has been exhausted for decades – most of the sites are now developed; are not viable; or are simply not attractive to the market. Where do we develop if we can’t expand into edge-of-settlement Green Belt? “It is these bold moves that will increase housing supply to a level that we need, but there’s not enough local authorities with the vision and boldness to do this; this must change.
“I welcome the changes to the NPPF, but they simply do not go far enough. I fear that my entire career will be punctuated by this debate, but I remain positive that one day we will achieve what we need, more homes for families and more affordable homes for our kids.”