In submitting its response to the revised NPPF consultation, Cllr Mark Crane, DCN Members’ Board Lead for Stronger Economies, said:
“District councils, as the planning and housing authorities, already play a vital role in helping to get the country building more homes through the timely approval of applications, but with more empowerment they can do even more.
“Whilst districts welcome some of the changes proposed in this consultation, there remain concerns which must be addressed if district councils are to maximise their ability and potential to help get the country building more homes in a system which is fair and in the best interests of their communities.
“Incentives for councils to help drive forward home-building figures already exist in the form of the New Homes Bonus which rewards communities for doing the right thing. Penalising councils for delays that are not under their control is misplaced and unfair because local authorities are approving nine out of ten planning applications. We therefore call on the Government to provide the flexibility to incorporate the findings of the Letwin Review on build out rates in the future planning framework which we hope will rebalance the negotiating power between developers and councils.
“The DCN welcomes the changes which will require Local Plans to be based of “an” appropriate strategy, rather than “the most appropriate” strategy. This is likely to speed up the process significantly and therefore reduce costs. We also fully support the principle of making all viability assessments publicly available.
“To help Government meet its target of building 300,000 homes a year, Districts must have greater financials freedoms in relation to delivering mores homes. This includes increasing the time available to spend and allowing councils to retain 100 per cent of Right to Buy receipts; scrapping the borrowing cap for the Housing Revenue Account; greater support for necessary infrastructure to support additional house building and enhanced powers of compulsory purchase to enable councils to acquire permitted or allocated land which is not coming forward for development quickly enough, or being built at all, in a timely way.”
District Councils’ Network media office, 020 7664 3333
You can access the full consultation response here