LGiU response to Housing White Paper
Jonathan Carr-West, Chief Executive, LGiU said: “We are pleased that the White Paper contains many of the measures we have called for in our recent work with the Federation of Master Builders and with the National Trust. We particularly welcome proposals to bring more small builders into house building, to tackle land banking and to assure quality development.
However, we are not convinced that this White Paper goes far enough to address the democratic deficit in our planning system. In a recent survey, we found that seven out of ten local councillors believe that the system is weighted in favour of developers at the expense of local communities. They also told us the system was too dominated by central government: a trend this White Paper looks set to exacerbate rather than reverse.
We desperately need more housing, but we also need the planning system to be democratically accountable. That’s why councillors need to be at the centre of it. This White Paper is a missed opportunity to put them there. Meanwhile, planning departments have been hit particularly hard by cuts to council budgets. Many of the ambitions the White Paper sets out will prove hard to achieve without sufficient resources.”
Notes to editors
In January 2017, a survey of over 1,200 ward councillors in England, carried out by the Local Government Information Unit, and commissioned by the National Trust, revealed councillors’ views that the planning system works in the interests of developers over councils and local communities.
Key survey findings included:
72% of councillors say that the system is too weighted in favour of developers at the expense of local communities
Half of councillors say sites that are not in line with the local plan are being approved for new housing
Half of councillors and 65% of small and medium sized house builders believe planning departments are not adequately resourced
58% of councillors with Green Belt in their area think that their council will allocate Green Belt land for housing in the next five years
The National Planning Policy Framework does not appear to be having the positive impact it was intended to have on design quality – with only 18% of councillors feeling design has improved since the NPPF was drawn up, and only 12% of councillors think that the loosening of planning restrictions has had a positive effect
The Local Government Information Unit (LGiU) is a think tank and membership body with over 200 councils and other organisations subscribing to our networks. We work to strengthen local democracy and put citizens in control of their own lives, communities and local services. For more information, visitlgiu.org.