Overhaul of planning system risks ‘complete disaster’ – London Councils responds to planning reforms in Queen’s Speech

London boroughs have expressed dismay at the overhaul of planning reforms included in the Queen’s Speech.

Councils have repeatedly warned that the government’s proposed changes to planning law will make it harder for local authorities to meet affordable housing targets and to ensure housebuilding is high quality and sustainable.

Cllr Darren Rodwell, London Councils’ Executive Member for Housing & Planning, said: “The government’s complete overhaul of the English planning system is a complete disaster in the making.

“We’re desperate for more affordable housing in the capital – but these reforms risk making the situation worse.

“Councils play a crucial role in the planning system, upholding quality standards and ensuring new development includes affordable housing for our communities. With around 50,000 planning applications granted by London boroughs each year, we’re doing our best to facilitate the new housing the capital needs.

“Our concern is that ripping up planning regulations will only lead to more slum housing built to maximise profits rather than address Londoners’ needs. There’s so much more the government should be doing to invest in affordable housing and to support local councils’ housebuilding ambitions.”

London Councils highlights the following concerns with the government’s proposals:

  • Moving to zoning arrangements, with more availability of automatic planning permission, means fewer opportunities for local accountability and oversight. It will become much harder for councils to make sure the right sort of homes are built to the right standard in the right places.
  • The ending of Section 106 agreements and the Community Infrastructure Levy leaves councils with very few mechanisms for ensuring affordable housing targets are met.
  • There are approximately 305,000 new homes in the capital’s development pipeline, but the government isn’t giving boroughs the ability to force developers to build out the planning permissions they have been granted. Strengthening rather than weakening council powers would help speed up delivery of the affordable homes London needs most.

London faces the most severe homelessness crisis in the country, accounting for two-thirds of England’s homelessness total. Over 60,000 homeless London households live in temporary accommodation organised by their local borough and a quarter of a million Londoners are on waiting lists for council housing.

London Councils is urging the government to support affordable housebuilding by increasing grant funding and ending all restrictions on how councils use the money raised from Right to Buy sales receipts so that all funds raised are reinvested in replacement homes.

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