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23/04/2015

‘Housing focus must be on supply’

Words: Laura Edgar
Housebuilding

Many of the proposals for housing in the political party manifestos focus on the demand side of the housing market without explaining how housing will be delivered, planning industry professionals tell The Planner.

Although it is good to see in varying degrees the main parties commit to tackling the housing crisis, a spokesperson for the Centre for Cities told The Planner: “Some critical omissions remain.”

Many of the proposals - such as the Conservatives’ Help to Buy and Starter Homes initiative and Labour’s plans for rental security - tackle demand, said the spokesperson, however, “when it comes to increasing supply, the manifestos largely feature abstract housing targets, with little detail as to how they will be met in practice”.

“Eleven party manifestos have now been published. We are very pleased that the parties have heeded one of our key proposals for whoever forms the next government, to pause for a full Parliament on introducing primary planning legislation. Improvements in the operation of the planning system can be achieved, and we would argue some policy changes are needed – but not further structural upheavals.

"The RTPI has published ten proposals for Planning in the next Parliament and we are carefully examining the manifestos to see how we can work closely with the new government to implement as many of them as possible after the election”. Tino Hernandez, RTPI

Mark Sitch, senior partner at Barton Willmore agreed, emphasising that the focus needs to be on supply.  He said: “It should be a key action after the election for the next government.”

Housing is a long-term issue, said Mike Derbyshire, head of planning at Bidwells. It “cannot be managed by short-term initiatives”. He added that none of the parties had a “coherent strategic plan to tackle it”.

Regarding the SNP manifesto, Gordon Thomson, associate at Barton Willmore’s Edinburgh office, told The Planner that although it shows support for affordable housing and Help to Buy, “there is precious little about how these new homes are actually going to be delivered”.

The overwhelming message appears to be that post-election will be key.

Derbyshire encourages the parties to be bold. Although they realise the scale of the problem, “they need to take new measures to help speed up the planning process to help deliver the housing that is needed”.

“The post-election policy challenge is “critical in importance and substantial in scale.”

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