A committee of MPs has criticised the UK Government's proposed changes to planning policy for housing as likely to encourage development on green fields and undermine urban renewal, in a report published June 20 2006 
CPRE Comment Edit
Commenting on the MPs report, CPRE, the Campaign to Protect Rural England, say
- The Committee's report highlights the need to make sure councils have sufficient powers to stop developers cherry-picking greenfield sites while undermining the regeneration of our towns and cities.
- In recommending changes to proposed planning policies, the Report directly echoes CPRE's concerns about their effect on urban renewal and greenfield sprawl. Whether or not the Government retains the "sequential" brownfield-first approach to planning for housing in the final policy will be a key test of whether it's serious about the environment or just paying lip service.
- In addition, in a blow to the approach advocated by Kate Barker and adopted by the Government, the Committee dismisses the idea that a simplistic supply and demand model can be applied to the housing market.
- We share the Committee's and the Government's concern about the shortage of affordable housing, and we're pleased that the Committee accepts that simply building more houses for sale is unlikely to make a serious dent in affordability.
- We strongly endorse the Committee's call for the Government to examine a range of strategies other than building more houses, that might address the issue of affordability.'
Other recommendations CPRE supports Edit
Other recommendations in the Committee's Report that CPRE strongly supports include:
- better strategic planning so that housebuilding makes use of capacity in low demand areas, helping reduce development pressure on areas of high demand nearby (paragraph 104);
- a 600% increase in the Government's target for reducing long-term empty homes (paragraph 112);
- reduction of VAT on all empty buildings (paragraph 113);
- an emphasis on the 'overwhelming need' to boost the supply of affordable rented housing (paragraph 32);
- wider use of Landscape Character Assessment in planning (paragraph 152);
- action to address the problem of second homes in affected parts of the countryside (paragraph 24);
- concentration of new housing close to urban centres and employment, to prevent sprawl and increased commuting (paragraph 106);
- inclusion of the new Department for Communities and Local Government in the Government's Public Service Agreement on Climate Change (paragraph 146); and
- more demanding environmental standards for new and existing homes, with a move to mandatory standards and incentives to adapt existing stock (paragraphs 157, 158 and 168).
Critiscism of top-down housing targets Edit
Notwithstanding these positive recommendations, CPRE believes that the Committee's analysis is flawed in its unquestioning acceptance of the Government's shift to centralised, top-down housing targets driven by future projections of household formation based on past trends (e.g. paragraphs 6, 9). It also appears not to question the sheer scale of development proposed in the wider South East (e.g. paragraph 152), preferring an attempt to mitigate environmental damage to one which would avoid it in the first place by placing development within the context of an assessment of the region's environmental capacity to accommodate it.
- CPRE news release
- House of Commons ODPM: Housing, Planning Local Government and the Regions Committee: Affordability and the Supply of Housing, Third report of session 2005-6 (ISBN 0 215 02926 7). The report is available online via the UK Parliament website