Neighbourhood plans are one of the biggest changes to the planning system in a decade and the East Midlands is one of England’s neighbourhood plan hotspots. It is also widely known that solving the housing crisis is now one of the government’s key objectives. However, new research suggests that Neighbourhood plans are not helping to deliver the new housing the country needs.
A report by Lichfields, Local Choices? Housing Delivery Through Neighbourhood Plans, finds that just 40 per cent of the 330 neighbourhood plans considered contain allocations for new housing, with half of these new allocations.
Matthew Spry, senior director and head of economics at Lichfields, who conducted the research, said: “Our research shows 60 per cent of plans do not contain a housing figure or site allocations, which suggest that local communities are placing greater emphasis on other planning issues such as the protection of local infrastructure, services and green spaces.” The research suggests that since the 2011 Localism Act, which provided for neighbourhood plans, only 15 of the 330 plans reviewed opted for more housing than a corresponding local plan.
The study finds that the East Midlands is one of the hotspots for neighbourhood plans alongside the South East, and the West Midlands. According to the planning consultancy, the lack of housing allocations is in part down to the “tardiness” of the local planning system, with “less than half” of local authorities outside London having local plans in place. The result of this is that in the absence of a housing requirement contained within a Local Plan, local communities may choose not to allocate sites for development due to local community priorities or lack of community appetite.
“This will impair a council’s ability to boost the supply of housing…this continues to highlight the importance of local plans setting the strategic policies for areas” Spry said.
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