Ever-expanding Green Belt must be tackled to solve the UK's housing crisis, says new report
National Planning Policy Framework risk exacerbating the situation.
The principle of a clear general presumption in favour of sustainable
development that has equal weight to other considerations, including
the Development Plan, must be reintroduced.
● The Planning Inspectorate appears to be under extreme pressure. The
increased involvement of outside specialists and a sitting mediation
service would help to resolve the problems and speed up decisions.
● All Green Belt boundaries should be reviewed, starting with those areas
that do not have an adequate land supply for the next ten years to meet
known population requirements. An early release of Green Belt would
help to meet the urgent need for housing in and around Birmingham,
Manchester and London. The most sustainable areas will be within
walking distance of railway or underground stations.
● There is enough Green Belt land within the confines of Greater London
– 32,500 hectares – to build 1.6 million houses at average densities. If
only a tenth of this land were used for new housing that would represent
160,000 new homes – a significant response to the urgent housing
crisis in the capital.
● The government should introduce legislation to enable the setting
up of Special Purpose Vehicles (SPVs) as an appropriate delivery
mechanism for new integrated and sustainable communities with a
mix of housing types and tenures, for example, homes for sale, private
rental, housing association accommodation and more specialised types
such as sheltered accommodation for the elderly.
● As recommended in a House of Lords select committee report into
the housing market, a senior Cabinet Minister should be given overall
responsibility for identifying and coordinating the release of public land
● The Government Property Unit in the Cabinet Office needs to up its
game and accelerate progress with its Government Estate Strategy,
notably in respect of the One Public Estate programme which appears
to have made lamentable progress as far as land sales are concerned.
● Given the slow progress so far made on public land disposals,
consideration should be given to allowing a private sector body
permission to apply to acquire public sector land under the Compensation
Code and serve a Disposal Order to achieve such a transfer. This might
prove particularly relevant where this relates to land where a local
authority has already granted planning permission.
● There is a strong case to use land promotion partners where
additional expertise and funding is judged necessary to unlock sites
for development. Promoters can supply ‘shovel-ready’ sites into the
land market, speeding up the delivery of new homes.
● Small housebuilders have a particularly important role to play in
constructing homes on small sites owned by the public sector. Recently
announced loan guarantees by the government may prove pivotal in
delivering new homes. Small sites should be exempt from CIL and
Section 106 payments except in relation to issues of safety. Small
housebuilders should be enabled to use the Disposal Order system to
bring forward sites. These entrepreneurs must be enabled to contribute
fully to resolving the housing crisis.