Relaxing planning rules will not solve housing crisis

Ahead of the long-awaited publication of a consultation on the National Planning Policy Framework by the Government, Ian Harvey, Executive Director of Civic Voice said:

“We look forward to seeing the much-awaited release of the consultation on the National Planning Policy Framework. Outside of local councils, the civic movement is the largest participant in the planning system, so we have years of experience and knowledge of how the NPPF is impacting communities across the country.”

The formal announcement of the National Planning Policy Framework has yet to be published but is expected week commencing March 5th.

Harvey added: “Civic Voice members reject the notion that good planning is a brake on the economy and housing delivery. On the contrary the best planned places are also the most economically successful.”

Ahead of the publication, Civic Voice has highlighted 5 areas of concern as identified by Civic Voice members in its annual member survey, they include:

  • Councils are using swathes of green belt for housing to meet housing targets.
  • Developers are targeting greenfield sites stating that brownfield sites are unviable.
  • Because there is only a “presumption in favour of sustainable development” and no dedicated brownfield land first policy, developers are interpreting the NPPF to suit their needs.
  • The Duty to Co-operate is not working and we are not seeing enough strategic planning working effectively across the country.
  • The changes to permitted development rights are undermining the performance of our towns and city centres.
  • The planning system needs effective resources, particularly at local authority level, commensurate with the important role it plays. Planning is part of the solution not the problem.

Harvey finished by saying: “We agree with the Government that finding a solution to the housing crisis is essential, but another review of the planning system is only going to add confusion, not certainty. The barrier to house building arises from borrowing restrictions and economic uncertainty, not planning. Investors need certainty and introducing uncertainty through further consultations has negative consequences. If the Government wants to solve the housing crisis, they should look at bringing back into use the estimated 900,000+ empty homes across the UK, 330,00 of which are long term empty.”

The National Planning Policy Framework is expected to be published week commencing 5th March and Civic Voice has an All Party Parliamentary Group for Civic Societies meeting taking place on March 13th.

About Civic Voice

Civic Voice is the national charity for the civic movement. We lead and support civic societies as a national movement for quality of place, with people actively improving their towns, cities and villages and promote civic pride. We speak up for civic societies and local communities across England. We believe everyone should live somewhere they can be proud of and we know how people feel about places because we feel the same way. Civic societies are the most numerous participants in the planning system. Since its launch in April 2010 Civic Voice has been joined by over 290 civic societies with 75,000 members. Further information is available at including how to join Civic Voice (£10 individuals) and contact details for local civic societies.


Ian Harvey, Civic Voice (m) 07877 096968

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