Lewis urged to think pink on planning rules

19 May 15

Housing and planning minister Brandon Lewis has been urged to review the regulations around development in a bid to boost housebuilding.

In a report published today for the Centre for Policy Studies, economist Keith Boyfield and lawyer Daniel Greenberg said the UK planning system is chiefly to blame for the country’s housing shortage, as it restricts supply.

They called on Lewis to implement new ‘Pink Zones’ regime – so-called because they would have a more streamlined planning process with less red tape – where developments could be accelerated.

Under the plans, which are intended to work from the bottom up, local residents, developers and councils would work together to devise development plans.  

A Development Plan for the new community would be submitted by a special purpose vehicle, with local authority backing, to central government for approval. If ministers had no policy objections, local issues are then investigated through a planning inquiry process run by planning experts, rather than politicians.

However, local authorities would be given a tax incentive to back local plans at the initial stage.

This revised regime would allow schemes to be approved quicker as they already have community backing, the authors claimed. A streamlined community-based approval process could also unlock private funding, Boyfield added.

‘In the past a great number of housing developments were built in the UK by private entities – in some cases of a philanthropic nature, such as Bournville,’ he said.

‘Pink Zones could trigger institutional funding for investment in new housing – institutions such as life insurance companies, pension funds, sovereign wealth funds and charitable foundations.

'Ultimately Pink Zones would create more and better homes for people throughout the country and tackle the poverty of aspiration which typifies much residential construction in this country. People would be happier and the country would be richer.’


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