The White Paper is predicted to land next Tuesday and already the ground is being set for publication.
The Telegraph on Thursday rather benignly suggested that there “is a plan to force councils to increase the number of homes in the local plan that they are required to produce”. The Sun (my first point of call for most planning news) on the same day contained a little more substance and indicated the “blueprint” will:
“Target open inner-city sites for development, such as railway station car parks which will move underground; end the scourge of “land banking” by stopping fat cat developers from sitting on sites by either withdrawing planning permission or issuing the threat of compulsory purchase orders; open up development sites to many more small builders, who have been locked out by the big firms’ market dominance and lack of credit access; [and] reserve sites for prefab builds, which can be erected far quicker but finished to look no different to brick buildings.”
Again, this may all seem fairly straightforward and easy to swallow (save for the fat cat reference), but The Sun had more to offer. The “blueprint” will also “relax long-standing height restrictions based on light” and will “see local authorities told the green belt is no longer sacrosanct for development. They will be encouraged to start building on it once brownfield sites have been filled.”
I’m not too sure how the first one will work in a world of land rights and compensation code, but the second “controversial” offering would require little more than the removal of a few words from the National Planning Policy Framework. We know from the Written Ministerial Statement of 16th December that this is the sort of action the Secretary of State is now happy to take without notice and without any consultation.
So if all this has anything going for it (and it does ring true to me), next week should prove an interesting time for the housing industry.