HBA: neighbourhood planning without infrastructure means fewer homes

In May 2016, the Queen’s Speech announced the Government’s plan to put forward a Neighbourhood Planning and Infrastructure Bill between 2016 and 2017.

The Neighbourhood Planning Bill seeks to reinforce neighbourhood planning, limit the use of pre-commencement conditions, and clarify compulsory purchase orders.

Gavin Barwell MP, housing and planning minister, explained that the bill will help build more homes and give communities more power over local development.

The House Builders Association (HBA) believes that the Neighbourhood Planning Bill is unlikely to meaningfully increase the supply of homes or appropriately empower local people. The HBA regrets the exclusion of infrastructure from this bill and questions the Government’s expectations from local authorities to deliver on new statutory planning duties, whilst facing decreasing levels of central Government funding.

On one hand, omitting infrastructure will increase uncertainty in local communities about the impact of new developments on roads, schools, and hospitals. On the other hand, imposing new obligations on local authorities – which have seen their funding cut by up to 40% since 2010 – will likely slow down the planning process.

Rico Wojtulewicz, policy advisor for the HBA, said:

“Infrastructure and development cannot be treated as separate issues, especially when communities believe that the lack of appropriate infrastructure is the reason to block developments. Neighbourhood plans should provide for more homes that local communities can accept, they should never be used as a blunt tool to stop building the homes we need.”