There are layers of proposed changes to housing delivery identified in the White Paper and much of it is focused on addressing some fundamental and underlying issues. It is, in that respect, a document that should be welcomed. It could go further and in two important respects it stops short of what is really needed.
The most important aspect of the White Paper for the house building industry will welcome the drive to increase supply, through measures set to force local authorities to assess housing need and to deliver upon their responsibilities.
The Secretary of State has made clear that standardised assessment mechanisms will be introduced to address past "fudges" and this must be welcomed as a solution to the existing arduous process. There will be "incentives" to follow this approach and the new methodology will apply to all 5 year land supply calculations from April 2018. This approach won't close down the debate as to what is essential to establish "objectively assessed need", it will simply narrow the argument. There will still be plenty of opportunity for further obfuscation and delay.
Equally, all this doesn't mean that much if there isn't anything to require plans to be produced. The prescriptions proposed by the Secretary of State today will require the review of local plans "at least once every five years" and the restated the emerging control mechanism of the potential intervention to put plans in place where communities are being "disadvantaged". Local authorities with limited infill sites and large swathes of green belt etc. will either put on their tin hats as they wait for a change in policy or will simply accept that the intervention of Central Government is more appealing than having to make the hard and unpalatable decisions themselves.
Overall, there is a feeling that on these two key issues, the White Paper just falls short of the mark.
"... we are not convinced that this white paper goes far enough to address the democratic deficit in our planning system."