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Lyons calls on councils to play stronger role in tackling housing crisis

Words: Laura Edgar
Housing delivery / Shutterstock_6835834

Sir Michael Lyons has called on councils to play a stronger, more ambitious role in tackling the housing crisis.

Speaking at the RTPI Yorkshire annual lecture on 28 July, in a session entitled ‘Where are we all going to live?’, Lyons laid bare the facts of the housing crisis.

He put forward a number of ideas about how it can be addressed, including stronger, more effective planning by local and devolved authorities.

Lyons said that public sector-led place-shaping and strategic planning should be higher on the agenda. Especially at a time when the house building industry has contracted in size and output, public planners and local councils, he continued, need to be more ambitious and pragmatic.

He put forward ways of creating more homes, including driving developments through active land assembly, encouraging land release for housing and business, taking the lead in development on council-owned land and forging partnerships. He also suggested unlocking private investments by putting in vital infrastructure first. Lyons put a strong emphasis on quality and more long-term investment in places as well as homes.

He said reshaping existing estates, making better use of existing stock and new garden settlements should all be part of the mix.

The government, said Lyons, should “press on with bold devolution and to adopt a comprehensive national housing strategy that invests in homes for all rather than just home ownership for the few. Investment in housing and the infrastructure to support it is now a priority if we are to strengthen our economy and tackle growing inequality”.

Phil Crabtree, chair of RTPI Yorkshire, said: “Lyon’s speech has rightfully put planning and local authorities in the heart of addressing one of the country’s most urgent issues. In these uncertain times the public sector needs to work closely with the private sector to provide the certainty the market needs to keep investing and building the houses and places communities need to thrive.

“The RTPI as a whole and in Yorkshire, will continue to champion for planning teams to be properly resourced and valued, so that planners can operate strategically and use local authorities’ combined local planning, economic development and regeneration powers to guide private sector investment and to lead the process of change.”

Flood alleviation scheme wins regional planning award


A large-scale flood defence system currently under construction in Skipton has won the RTPI Yorkshire Planning Excellence Award 2016.

Engineering firm Ove Arup and the Environment Agency developed the Skipton Flood Alleviation Scheme (FAS) after Skipton suffered from serious flooding events in recent history.

The scheme involves the building of two flood storage reservoirs on Eller Back and Walter Hill Beck, as well as the installation of floodwalls in the town centre.

Jennifer Winyard, chair of the judging panel, said: “In light of increasing flood risk in residential areas, the project delivers vitally important infrastructure that will provide real benefit to local communities in Skipton for years to come. The judges were particularly impressed by the quality of the technical planning input and the effective management of the scheme through a complex and complicated planning regime.”

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