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Report calls for strategic planning incentives to boost housing

by on July 9, 2015

Strong financial incentives are needed to coordinate planning and land use strategically across council boundaries with ‘meaningful penalties’ for councils which fail to do so, according to a new report on how cities could transform house-building performance.

That’s the headline conclusion of the ‘Growing Cities’ publication produced by think-tank the Institute for Public Policy Research and housing charity Shelter, which argues that drastic action is needed to tackle the urban housing crisis.

The authors looked at Birmingham, Bristol, Cambridge, Oxford and York and concluded that councils within city-regions “should be strongly incentivised to work closely together to co-ordinate building more homes”.

The report argued that strategic planning powers and budgets should be devolved to cities and resources such as public land should be pooled and coordinated across boundaries. However, councils “which block growth or refuse to co-operate” should face financial penalties.

Once all other options are exhausted, “there should be the ultimate backstop of a boundary review to incentivise working together effectively” argued the report.

The report made the case for the creation of city-wide, independent Local Homes Agencies with devolved powers to unblock stalled developments, negotiate with landowners and work with the private sector to put together new regeneration and urban extension projects. Cities should be able to tax land with planning permission which is being held back from development or built on very slowly.

The report also called for the creation of New Homes Zones, where cities would set basic terms of development and hold competitions for the best master plan ideas.

In addition, the report called for green belt reviews which would identify low public value land close to transport links and suitable for growth.

View the report

Roger Milne

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