Snapdragon’s Alex Green reports on the British Property Federation’s latest breakfast briefing

The British Property Federations James Bond themed breakfast briefing ‘The Plan Is Not Enough’ aimed to thrill by addressing many of the issues facing the planning process going into a new parliamentary term. And we at Snapdragon have our (Gold) finger on the pulse.

The keynote speech was delivered by Roberta Blackman-Woods, Shadow Planning Minister and Labour MP for the City of Durham. Her key message: the NPPF will have to Die Another Day (but Labour will make tweaks).

Blackman-Woods outlined Labour’s vision for the planning process should they end up in government come May. At the heart of this vision was the clear message that they do not wish to scrap the NPPF but rather tweak it to emphasise the benefit of localism. A view that has been echoed by The Lyons Review and Clive Betts MP (at our very own Snapdragon breakfast event in February).

The shadow planning minister’s key messages were as follows;

  • We need to set out a clear plan for delivery. Housing numbers are significant but are not the whole story. The emphasis must be on building communities and promoting exceptional placemaking.
  • Aggressive measures are needed to tackle developer ‘land banking’ and Labour will address this.
  • More transparency is needed where viability calculations are concerned, in aid of better informing the public on the intricacies of the housing market.
  • Labour will adopt mechanisms to promote large-scale housing projects including garden cities. “We mean that”.
  • Labour have reviewed the issue of design quality and sustainability, concluding that new space standards need to be adopted, and zero carbon development promoted.
  • The Lyons Review highlighted real concerns about the capacity for S106 and CIL contributions to truly deliver infrastructure improvements. As such Labour believe that local authorities should be able to work outside of CIL and S1o6 contributions on projects over 500 homes.
  • Permitted Development Rights for office to residential change of use is a ‘mad policy’, and Labour will scrap this.

If the shadow planning minister’s words are anything to go by, a future Labour government will aim to cut bureaucracy while targetting local enthusiasm and engagement around planning. In the process, ‘incentivising’ developers to build homes on ‘banked land’, and moving away from top down, tick the box planning.

The overriding message then, is that a vote for Labour will be a vote for on the ground planning and strategizing, with a considered disregard for higher authority. Bond would be proud.