The Conservative Party, through both their Secretary of State and Housing Minister, made multiple announcements around housing - encompassing planning, design, permitted development rights (PDR) and modern methods of construction. While there was clearly ambition to give housing priority, the Government didn't announce anything that would go towards holistically helping with housing supply, and was merely more tinkering.
The announcement around PDR with the ability to build up and increase density could help deliver residential property, but the Government must address the current issues within PDR including space standards, quality and that they aren't required to contribute to s106 if PDR - even with this new ability - is to actually deliver the homes that are needed. They must also ensure that unintended consequences such as right to light violations are prevented. Housing isn't a science experiment; the people of England cannot be the test subjects of housing thought processes, and we must look at policy thoroughly before it is implemented.
Despite the controversy over the delivery of her speech, Esther McVey's focus on MMC as a compliment to traditional build methods is welcomed by RICS. We would encourage her to ensure that she addresses the issues and opportunities around finance, social value, skills, and technology as highlighted in the RICS policy statement released in July this year.
Housing design will not address the opposition to development; only placemaking can start to address that. We must not continue to try and meet housing targets, but start addressing actual need, and building homes in the required tenure and size where they are needed. Social infrastructure - as well as physical infrastructure - also needs to be planned and delivered in conjunction with housing delivery.
Studies have shown that placemaking makes good commercial sense. With a greater focus on environmental impacts of our lifestyles, Government and industry must start building homes that recognise good placemaking - and homes help create healthier populations, which decreases the stresses on the NHS.
RICS would urge the Government, as well as the opposition parties, to start prioritising placemaking, mixed tenure developments and adequately funded planning departments, as well as a focus on building communities - not housing target numbers - in all of their housing policies. Housing cannot be a one tenure debate nor one issue focus; its not a one-size-fits-all sector, and local communities must take control with proper planning for their long term ambitions, and not buckle under immediate pressures and concerns.