The parliament recently announced it will launch an official inquiry into the way planning minister Nick Boles and the government has handled the dire shortage of new homes across the UK.
Clive Betts MP, Communities and Local Government Committee chairman, announced the investigation last week and stated he will question the effectiveness of the two-year-old government planning policy, which has only led to 100,000 new homes, which is 150,000 less than the 250,000 that are needed.
The recent announcement comes shortly after Emma Reynolds, the shadow housing minister, openly attacked the “laissez faire” attitude of the coalition’s approach and revealed that BBC chairman Sir Michael Lyons was asked to investigate the need for the development of new garden cities and towns.
On Wednesday, Boles admitted a key piece of the national planning policy’s framework may be too complex and will be subject to a review.
Boles said the neighbourhood planning process allowing for local groups to collectively decide their own planning measures will be reviewed by the government.
According to Planning Magazine, he stated, “We want to hear from people who have done it and come up with something that may be an alternative to the full-blown system or a change in the full-blown system.”
In London, which is once again experiencing rapidly rising home prices, only 16,000 new homes are being built. However, according to the Town and Country Planning Association, demand is three times this figure.
Shelter, a housing charity, states that 1.7 million UK households are currently waiting for social housing.
In his speech at the TCPA annual conference, Betts stated that the inquiry would investigate whether the national planning policy framework has allowed private developers to bypass local authorities and win approval to develop homes on greenfield sites despite intense local opposition.
According to Betts, the public has voiced its concern over the development of greenfield sites under the new policy and there is a growing belief that developers have been able to exploit loopholes in the policy to build on open land that was previously protected.
The government is “not in the business of imposing on areas and local communities,” said Boles. On the other hand, Reynolds said Labour has not ruled out the imposition of new towns or garden cities on local authorities, but believes they should be given incentives.
“We are trying to prepare the ground for the new towns and garden cities now in the runup to the 2017 election. I simply don’t think we can achieve the numbers or quality that we need unless we look at these seriously,” said Reynolds.