Draft National Planning System could generate over 200,000 building jobs

Britain’s Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, has confirmed that the Government is still determined to revamp the overcomplicated planning system and boost house building, despite strong opposition from countryside campaigners. This ‘revamping’ constitutes a wholesale review of the planning system as a whole, including streamlining the huge 1000 page guidance document down to a manageable 52 pages.

Osborne is reported to have told the Financial Times: “No-one should underestimate our determination to win this battle.

“This is our opportunity to unlock the new investment and new jobs the country needs. We cannot afford to miss it.”

This statement comes as a new report from the Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR) has been released outlining how a housing boom would substantially boost the British economy. The report underlines how construction levels of 300,000 homes per annum in pre-war Britain helped drag the UK out of the Great Depression, whilst construction started reputedly on just 95,445 properties last year.

The report goes on to state that a return to these levels of construction by 2015, enabled by a simpler more development friendly planning system, would create an estimated 201,000 jobs in the construction industry and save millions on planning paperwork.

The CEBR’s Shehan Mohamed commented: “With fiscal and monetary policy measures exhausted, the government should consider how scaling back regulation can help bolster growth.

“One such measure is an easing of planning laws which would help create thousands of new jobs in construction.”

Recent issues of the propertysurveying.co.uk newsletter have seen much focus on the highly anticipated National Planning Policy document. To read more about the document itself and the current public consultation, including how you can get involved, click here.

To read about how the Planning Policy Document might affect Village Green Legislation, click here.


Comments from the Editor – food for thought:

In his joint article with the Chancellor, Eric Pickles stated:

“The house building slump was due to a range of factors, but a complex and adversarial planning system, which left many communities resentful, was part of the problem. The aim of a National Planning Policy Framework is simple. The draft brings together the policy and principles that guide decisions about how our country should grow. It reduces policy from more than 1,000 pages to under 100, and will pave the way for swifter, clearer decisions. In recent years, planning has come to be seen as a tool to say ‘no’ to growth, as a means to delay and block. This government will change that. Instead of stopping development, we want to support the right development. At the heart of the framework is a ‘presumption in favour of sustainable development’”

Most of this is a perfectly acceptable message; development should be encouraged in the right areas, the planning policy is over long. It could be observed, however, that no definition of sustainable has ever been satisfactorily made. What is sustainable when even sustainable technologies take a capital outlay and substantial fossil fuel consumption to become reality? Is it sustainable if the government has to heavily subsidise production?

Additionally, simple economics indicate that house prices will fall if there is a greater supply of residential property without an equal increase in demand. These plans do not encourage an equal increase in demand. Although a grand push to fulfill current demand in the economy might be noble, it will likely reduce house prices in affected areas and cause more problems for those already owning a property.

Some might observe that although employment will increase by 200,000 in the first instance, it will not increase by similar amounts in the future. Contrastingly, if house construction increases by the predicted 205,000 or so, this will surely continue year on year. One might say, therefore, that the increase in employment is temporary, for this level of house production year on year is surely not ‘sustainable’. It must fall and take with it the employment levels that were briefly reached. Some might call this a case of politicians looking towards the next election and not to a steady, long term solution.

The full version of the Pickles/Osborne planning article can be found here.

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