11 March 2020: Planning reforms to expand current housing measures

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The Secretary of State for Housing, Robert Jenrick MP, has published a statement today that seeks to expand on the housing measures outlined in the Chancellor’s budget announcement yesterday.

Responding to the statement, which explores future planning reforms, Jonathan Layzell, Executive Director – Development at Stonewater, said:

“The direction of travel announced by the Housing Secretary, Robert Jenrick, is good. While we will need to see the detail of the full measures to be announced in the Planning White Paper in the coming weeks, we will press ahead delivering as many affordable homes across England as we can.

“At present, Stonewater builds 1 in every 200 homes in the country on our sites across the North, Midlands and South. We are already committed to levelling-up housing opportunity, in line with the government’s wider economic aims, as set out in yesterday’s Budget.”

On planning fees and appeals, Jonathan said:

“We would like to see clear commitment from central government to reform and deliver in the right way in terms of the skills needed. Our view is that the taxpayer should not bear the burden of planning costs. It is right that developers, such as Stonewater, pay what is needed to ensure a planning system that can deliver high-quality decisions quickly and efficiently. Stonewater is happy to pay higher planning fees, so long as this is tied to an increase in performance.

“In addition, it is really important that everyone places due value on the work and opinions of planning professionals. Too often officer recommendations are being contradicted by planning committees and then overturned on appeal. In the past couple of years, Stonewater has had a number of successful appeals.

“While this means more much-needed affordable homes are being built in communities around the country, there is an enormous human cost in the delays to getting these homes built and households who badly need the homes moved in. If planning reforms can help prevent these unfortunate situations, that will be a hugely positive step.”

On local plans, Jonathan commented:

“We recognise the importance of Local Plans in ensuring there is clarity in communities affected by development about what to expect and why. It is really important that there continues to be a structure to allow politicians to deliver for everyone in their communities, not just the most vocal minorities.”