Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) Chief Executive Victoria Hills said: “Planning reform will impact communities across the country. This must be a positive process, to ensure that planners have the required support to plan the world we need. Planners are uniquely skilled to bring together communities, developers, infrastructure providers and local government to ensure new homes are built in the right place and accompanied by the services they need.
“We strongly welcome the greater certainty for development in ‘Growth’ zones, which will ensure homes can be built in areas where they are badly needed. Zoning for growth must be combined with active support to see projects through, with masterplanning and specialist proactive teams. Government has a chance to be truly ambitious here and deliver beautiful, healthy and well-connected green development.
“We suggest that further nuance would be required, to differentiate areas needing radical new masterplanning from industrial areas ripe for redevelopment and from suburbs.
“We need qualified planners installed within all local authorities as Chief Placemakers. Leadership is essential to ensuring local plans are in place and to ‘level up’. Community Planners must play a crucial role ensuring local people have their voices heard in the process, alongside investment in digital infrastructure to expand engagement.
“Finally, funding must match ambitions. A well-designed and well-funded system is an efficient one. Developers and communities will both benefit from a visionary and well-resourced system that harnesses the best of planning. We will work constructively with government to ensure planning delivers.”
Jamie Johnson, CEO of FJP Investment, said: “Today’s Queen’s Speech confirms that the Conservatives are pushing ahead with their plans to significantly reform the UK planning system. While the focus of the initiative is to accelerate the “levelling-up” process, ensuring more new homes are built, we should still expect plenty of opposition to the Bill.
“People will understandably be wary that if they live in one of the soon-to-be-designated “growth” zones, they could see green spaces built on and have their daily lives disrupted by major construction works. Yet at the same time, few would deny that the Government must take action if the UK’s housing shortage is to be effectively addressed; making it quicker and easier for housing projects to get the green light is an important part of that.
“It’s clearly a careful balancing act. For me, however, there must also be a keen focus on the quality of the new-build projects. Evidence has shown in the past that many prospective homebuyers are put off buying newly-built homes, either because they dislike the style and character of the property, they do not trust the quality of the work, or the surrounding area and infrastructure do not appeal. Simply constructing more houses will not necessarily help; they must be the right houses within the right ecosystems. As ever, the devil will be in the detail as the Bill takes shape.”
Paresh Raja, CEO of Market Financial Solutions said: “The shortage of affordable housing across the UK is one of the biggest issues facing society today. Countless successive governments have laid out ambitious targets for the construction of new homes, and then missed them. That is why I believe it is positive to see a more fundamental shift in policy – tackling the issues within the underlying planning system.
“From what we know so far, it’s set to be the most significant overhaul of the UK’s planning process for more than 70 years. Naturally, proper judgement must be reserved until the Bill is officially put forward and then duly debated. However, it is a move that could light the touch paper for the construction and housing sectors, spurring on a huge amount of investment in the real estate industry in the years ahead. And crucially, the end result ought to be many, many more affordable properties for would-be homebuyers.”
Ritchie Clapson CEng MIStructE, co-founder of propertyCEO: “We’re a nation of entrepreneurs; we have many individuals who are willing, able and committed to get started in business and who can make a difference. And we also have a housing crisis in this country for one key reason; because over the years, we just haven’t built enough homes.
“So, let’s put politics to one side for a moment and consider what the people in this country really need; the answer, quite simply, is more new homes.
“Over the last year we’ve seen the government take huge strides towards making the delivery of new homes not only easier but substantially quicker, with the introduction of new permitted development rights. Not only have these been focused on recycling our redundant brownfield sites, they have also enabled many entrepreneurs to transition into small scale property development and start to deliver some of these much-needed homes.
“The government’s commitment to easing the planning rules and bureaucracy that have frustrated the delivery of new homes historically can only be positive.
“Let’s cut out the red tape that’s slowed us in the past. Let’s build a dynamic and flexible planning system that embraces technology while ensuring our local planning authorities have the resources and scope to prevent a development free-for-all.
“And then let’s get out there and build, build, build!”
Tim Wood, Acting Chief Executive at Transport for the North, said: “Today’s Queen’s Speech opened with a statement on levelling up and the need to transform connectivity by rail and bus as part of the agenda. That this is high on the list of priorities is welcome news and must now be met with action as we focus on rebalancing our economy and improving transport links.
“We now need to see commitment to these aims in the upcoming Integrated Rail Plan, including backing the full HS2 and Northern Powerhouse Rail networks. Alongside a sustained pipeline of investment in our roads and active travel provision, this will support the cross-cutting themes of economic recovery and growth out of the Covid-19 pandemic, as well as increasing skills and opportunities for the North’s communities.
“Clear targets on climate change are also to be welcomed. Green growth is a big challenge, and one that is a key area of focus for Transport for the North. Our upcoming Decarbonisation Strategy provides a strong evidence base and clear plan for how cutting carbon emissions can be achieved, and offers a vision for future transport networks that will tackle the climate emergency.”
Jonathan Carr-West, Chief Executive, LGIU said: “This will not be a particularly encouraging Queen’s Speech for local government. Everyone agrees that we need to build many, many more houses in this country. It’s less clear that planning is what is preventing us from doing so. These proposals leave local government with the political liability on planning whilst depriving them, and by extension the communities they represent, of the powers to manage it effectively. Are major planning changes on permitted development totally compatible with rejuvenating town centres?
And, if we truly want places to be levelled up and to stay levelled up, we need to empower them through genuine devolution not through sporadic government patronage. Governments outside of Westminster have to deliver every day. Westminster politicians love to talk about how they will get on and deliver, but it is councils and mayors that actually do that.The shift of power away from Westminster is already happening, our politics has to catch up somehow.
However, the glaring hole in the middle of this Queen’s Speech is a plan for social care reform. Every year that this is kicked into the distance, the care sector moves closer to complete collapse. No-one pretends there’s an easy solution here but it will never get any easier and there will never be a better time. The Government must act now.
As arguments rage about the principle of voter ID, we would simply note that just last week local government delivered a double set of elections under the most trying of circumstances with, as always, a minimum of problems and negligible fraud. Maybe the Government should let councils do what they do best without making things more complicated than they need to be.”
“As with all planning system reforms that have gone before, clearly the devil will be in the detail, and we look forward to scrutinising the Bill once it is laid in the House. With an ever-worsening housing crisis, we hope, subject to its content, the Bill progresses swiftly through the Houses and receives timely Royal Assent. If not, the reforms and the Bill could ultimately have wholly the reverse effect on what the Government is trying to achieve – effectively, planning system gridlock and housing delivery hiatus!
“Since the 2011 reforms were introduced, which similarly focused on housing delivery, the Government has increased housing completions year-on-year. Whilst last year’s figure of 243k net additional dwellings across England is still someway short of the magical 300k figure, let us not forget the 137k figure we started with back in 2011, or even the 223k figure achieved in 2008/09 just before the global economic crash. With the 2011 reforms now bedded in and the fruits beginning to be properly born, is ‘the most radical reforms since the 1947 Act was first introduced’ really needed? With a post-Covid-19 ‘Build, Build, Build’ commitment, could embarking on a comprehensive programme of radical legislative system reforms prove to be a thorn in the Government’s side? Time will tell.”
“We should invest in the green skills and training that will enable people to find the jobs of the future. For example, low carbon heating and home upgrades can create the local green jobs the government has promised. Without sustained investment in training for those skills, Johnson’s plans will break down quicker than a rusty old boiler.
“Pledges on lifetime skills are welcome, but the loans inevitably exclude too many and the training must be accessible to all so that neglected communities do not lose out in our transition to a low carbon economy.
“The fact is, we face a chronic shortage of construction workers and low-carbon heat engineers. For years, stop-start government schemes have discouraged businesses, colleges and potential trainees from investing time and resources in this area. The collapse of the Green Homes Grant in March was just the latest example. Now the Government must keep its promises.
“Local authorities should also play a much larger role in delivering green skills. They’re ideally placed to engage young people and small businesses, grow local economies, create a diverse workforce and tackle fuel poverty. Let’s give councils the powers and funding to create the well-paid jobs and better homes their communities want.”