On November 9th 2017, Stockport Labour Group submitted their response to the Government’s consultation document on plans to deliver The Right Homes in the Right Places. The consultation document is available here.
Below, we have provided a summary of the main points made in our response:
On Planning for Housing Needs:
• Stockport Labour Group welcome a single housing needs methodology as this could be more efficient and quick than what went before. We also welcome incorporation of an affordability ratio as part of the process.
• However, we believe existing plans remain too market-led and believe this approach has failed, producing perverse incentives for developers. There is a need for significant government action to both allow and fund affordable housing and redevelopment in priority areas.
• Stockport Labour contend allowing longer-term housing needs calculation could allow for greater stability, strategy and synergy in respect to planning and Local Plans.
On Plan Accountability:
• We have requested data publication be made more accessible to the public with better explanation of the process.
• We have also asked that housing needs figures should be fixed at the point of plan submission, as opposed to publication, as it is these figures which are accountable to Full Council and consulted upon.
• However, where appropriate this could be fixed for longer periods to allow greater stability and alignment with local plans.
On National Vs Local needs:
• We believe it is desirable that the national needs assessments are adhered to. However, flexibility should be allowed within the system, for example so that across areas of joint working such as the GMCA, targets can be met collectively as opposed to Local Authorities meeting them alone.
• Local Authorities should be free to work together to achieve housing targets and working together should be encouraged, but not prescribed.
• Applying simple formulas cannot fully take into account local knowledge and is not always the best way to assess local need or basis for planning decisions.
On what more can be done:- Stockport Labour believe:
• greater recognition of the scale of housing crisis is needed from Government.
• there has been undersupply of Social and affordable housing over four decades.
• the Market has failed, and Government needs to step in to address both supply and demand-side aspects of this failure.
• there is a need for more Government assistance, both legally, financially and practically to develop brownfield sites if the Government is serious about protecting the green belt.
• greater reform of Compulsory Purchase Order system can help Local Authorities maximise redevelopment of Brownfield sites and minimise development of green sites.
• more honesty from Government on the future of the green belt is needed.
• greater powers to sanction, incentivise and take action on land hoarders are needed, particularly where planning application has been granted.
• the need for adequate infrastructure to accompany development is paramount, and Local Authorities should be encouraged to challenge developers to contribute to this.
• Local Authorities should be allowed greater control and flexibility in relation to their own finances on the issue of housing.
• There is a need for an extensive and visionary programme of housing development- led and financially backed by Government, as part of programme of investment to address the nation’s unbalanced economy.