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Government sees new settlements as part of housing crisis solution

Words: Laura Edgar
Village green / Shutterstock: 128408369

Although supply isn’t a straight forward question, the government sees an ‘increasing role’ for new settlements to help bridge the gap in solving the nation’s housing shortage, the audience at a recent conference heard.

John McManus, deputy director, land and housing delivery at the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) highlighted the progress the government has made in increasing the supply of housing and that for the “first time in a decade, we have broken through the 200,000 mark,” delivering more than 217,000 homes in 2017.

Speaking at the Town and Country Planning Association’s (TCPA) ‘Making Garden Communities Great Communities’, McManus said new settlements would not only drive up numbers, but deliver holistic plans by communities that are “rooted in the garden city principles”.

He also noted that the lack of reference to garden city principles in the revised National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) does not “diminish our commitment to garden communities” and “we are very clear that garden communities are vital to delivering the supply [of housing] the country needs”.

The £5 billion Housing Infrastructure Fund was mentioned by McManus, not only because it is “very likely” to put the physical and social infrastructure need to support garden communities in place, but it also “sets the future tone for dialogue on garden cities”.

“The numbers alone are not enough. That is why we’re keen to see the extension of the garden communities programme,” McManus continued.

The government will launch a prospectus this summer on the Autumn Budget commitment on garden communities, he added.

Leadership and engagement

The TCPA’s chief executive Kate Henderson introduced a report by the TCPA New Communities Group – Building Successful New Communities: Lessons from the TCPA’s New Communities Group (pdf). Members of the group are local authorities and development corporations planning and delivering large-scale new communities.

There are a number of key lessons to come from the report, Henderson explained. These include that unless there is strong leadership at the national level, “you cannot get high quality new communities”.

“This is really the most important point. Politics has to enable this to happen and strong physical leadership is vital.”

She added that community engagement is really important, but that it needs working on because nobody wants to consult every six months for a development that may take 20 years to complete. “It needs to be done early and it needs to be done properly.”


Robbie Owen, partner at Pinsent Masons LLP, suggested that the Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project (NSIP) regime could be used to provide planning consents for large-scale housing, including garden communities.

Currently this route is limited to 500 dwellings per infrastructure project, and this depends on geographic proximity or functional need.

Owen suggested that an NSIP application could be combined with a conventional planning application.

The Planner wants to know what you think about this suggestion. We want to speak to people who think garden communities could or should be delivered through the NSIP regime, and how this could work. Alternatively, why would this suggestion not work? Is there a better way to deliver large-scale communities? Email [email protected] to let us know your thoughts.

Read more:

Housing to be considered as an NSIP from April

500-home limit for ‘nationally significant’ housing schemes

RTPI to lead NPPF consultation with members

Mixed reaction to proposed NPPF revisions

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