The Local Housing Delivery Group (LHDG), chaired by Sir John Harman, today publishes its dual review of local plan viability testing and local standards in new housing development at an event hosted by group secretariat, NHBC (National House-Building Council).
Following a request from Housing Minister Grant Shapps, the group was established as a unique collaboration between local government and house builders to help address the current chronic housing crisis.
With the reduction in central planning guidance and the forthcoming abolition of regional housing targets, the role of local authorities in planning for new homes becomes even more critical. The new National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) poses a challenge for them to develop local plans which are both sustainable and viable.
The publication of today's reports reflect a strong measure of consensus around two extremely complex issues by consolidating the views of an exceptionally broad and diverse range of interested parties. These include: home builders, local government, industry professions, consultants and regulators.
The group's report, 'Viability testing local plans – Advice for planning practitioners' is a resource for local authorities to help ensure their local plans are viable and deliverable. It provides practical, step-by-step advice for planning practitioners on how their local plans can effectively address the viability of residential land in their area.
The advice has been welcomed by the Planning Inspectorate as an approach which will help enable local authorities to meet their obligations under the NPPF when their plans are examined. It will also help house builders preparing applications to understand the process.
The Home Builders Federation (HBF) and the Local Government Association (LGA), two key partners in the initiative, have made a commitment to engage with their members in applying the advice and ensuring that it develops effectively over time.
On the second issue of local standards, the group has produced an interim report: 'A review of local standards for the delivery of new homes'. It concludes that there is significant scope for simplification of the standards regime and recommends an urgent Government-backed review and consolidation of existing local housing standards to ensure they meet the aspirations of local communities without undermining viability.
Sir John Harman, Chairman of the LHDG, at the launch of the review said:
"This group demonstrates what can be achieved through the voluntary collaboration of the industry when addressing a key challenge – planning the further supply of new homes. I believe the resulting advice on viability will be invaluable for planning practitioners as they seek to balance sustainable development for local communities with realistic returns for landowners and developers.
"During the consultation process, I have observed a willingness to collaborate and the convergence of opinion and I believe the review serves as a perfect example of how the industry can come together to take joint responsibility for delivering important advice. The implementation of some of the recommendations will require new resource and in some cases, new skills. I am pleased the LGA and HBF have agreed to work together to help their members put our recommendations into practice."
Welcoming the recommendations, Andrew Stunell MP, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) said:
"We thank Sir John Harman and all of those involved in this review work. We welcome very much the collaborative approach used to develop the advice and the commitment of all the various interested parties and stakeholders to develop the advice, based on their feedback and experience. This is a very valuable resource for local authorities to consider as they develop their local plans, and for other parties to use in contributing to that process."
Stewart Baseley, Executive Chairman of the HBF:
"England has an acute housing supply crisis and local authorities have a critical role to play in enabling home builders to meet the country's housing needs. This advice, the result of a unique collaboration between home builders and local government, will help local authorities ensure sufficient sites for desperately needed housing are viable and can be developed."
Councillor Ed Turner, Member of the LGA Environment and Housing Board;
"We believe that communities, developers and land-owners all benefit from local authorities and developers working together closely. The way in which the viability of new development is assessed and defined will form a key part of that collaboration.
"It is essential councils are able to make decisions about future development and secure necessary infrastructure and affordable housing as part of that development. Local requirements will depend on evidence about the long-term priorities and needs of local residents, businesses and those struggling to find a home.
"The advice being put forward by local government and industry should help councils develop local plans which encourage the new development needed, but also make sure it is truly sustainable, and provides the necessary investment in affordable homes and new facilities.
"Through the LGA's 'Housing the Nation' campaign, local government is striving to kickstart the building of new homes, by calling for councils to be given the freedoms and flexibilities they need to promote and nurture new development of real benefit to local areas and with strong public support."
Author: LGA Media Office
Contact: LGA Media Office, Telephone: 020 7664 3333
Notes to editors
Copies of the reports can be found at www.nhbc.co.uk. NHBC provides the secretariat for the Steering Group.
About the Local Housing Delivery Group
The Local Housing Delivery Group (LHDG) is a cross-industry group involving home builders, local government and other key stakeholders with an interest in home building in England.
It was set up in 2011 to respond to the Government's challenge to boost the delivery of new homes, to simplify housing standards where possible, and to support growth and high standards in home building. It aims to do this by helping local authorities and developers find agreed ways in which they can fulfil their obligations under the new NPPF.
The LHDG was chaired by Sir John Harman. On the steering group were:
The steering group established two working groups to tackle two key areas central to the development of successful local plans under the new planning regime. The first of these focused on the issue of viability testing of local plans (chaired by the HCA), while the second examined how housing standards are applied at the local level (chaired by NHBC). Today's reports present a collective position with recommendations and advice on these two key areas.
For further information
For further information or interviews with Sir John Harman, please contact:
Telephon (mobile): 07798 694911
3 July 2012