William Eichler 16 January 2020

Former housing minister warns of ‘a new generation of slum housing’

A former housing minister has warned that national planning policy needs ‘a radical rethink’ in order to promote the wellbeing of communities.

A new report from the Town & Country Planning Association (TCPA) argues that planning policy is being undermined by deregulation and a failure to address a ‘chronic loss’ of public confidence.

It says that the system has been producing large numbers of planning permissions for homes, but it argues that the quality of these units can be ‘shockingly poor’.

According to TCPA, permitted development rights have led to the delivery of large numbers of new homes in poorly designed estates which lack public transport and basic social facilities.

Permitted development rights allow homes to be created without going through the planning system.

TCPA’s report, which is an update of the Raynsford Review of English Planning, also repeats the call for a new legal duty to focus the planning system on the health, safety and wellbeing of communities.

‘A year ago we identified the real possibility of a new generation of slum housing produced through the deregulation of the planning system,’ said the former housing minister Nick Raynsford.

‘That fear has become a reality and our update report shows that over the past twelve months the situation has got worse not better.

‘This follow-up report is an urgent wake-up call, highlighting what needs to be done to secure a planning system which creates great places, upholds decent standards and promotes the public interest.

‘We ignore at our peril the anger and disaffection felt by so many communities at the failure of current planning policies and procedures to listen to their concerns and respond to their needs.

‘Restoring public confidence in the planning system is one of our generation’s greatest challenges.’

Fiona Howie, chief executive of the TCPA, commented: ‘The Government has emphasised the importance of good design on numerous occasions over the last 12 months and that is welcome.

‘But if we want to see meaningful change in practice, and create places that enhance people’s lives, the Government needs to take action.

‘Under the current permitted development arrangements – which have already produced tens of thousands of housing units – vulnerable people are stripped of any right to light and space and children are having to play in active car parks.

‘Plus, these new units are making no contribution to local services such as doctor’s surgeries, local schools or decent affordable homes.’

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