Diary of a Sutton Councillor

Sutton’s response to the Consultation on the Draft National Planning Policy Framework

10 May 2018

The Rt Hon James Brokenshire MP
Secretary of State for Communities & Local Government

Dear Secretary of State,

Consultation on the Draft National Planning Policy Framework

The current focus on addressing the housing crisis is to be welcomed. However many of the policies and ideas put forward will either be ineffective in addressing the crisis, undeliverable or will produce negative consequences.

First there is the focus on delivering units of housing. This is reducing the very human requirement of needing a place to reside down to the basics of simply a place of shelter, a roof over their head. This ignores the social impacts of poor quality housing and overcrowding.

Space standards are allowed to be reduced to squeeze in more units, and place-shaping, infrastructure and community-building are all inconveniences subsumed to the demand for greater housing numbers. The result will be social malaise, poor health both mental and physical, and a reduction in the attractiveness of our towns and cities.

Design appears to have been relegated to an afterthought, only seen as a function to be able to deliver more houses in ever smaller spaces.

People do not want units or boxes, they want quality homes with local schools, accessible transport and access to green and open spaces.

The second failure of the focus on units is that development is encouraged that does not meet the underlying need.

Why are we filling all available space in our towns and cities with accommodation that the vast majority cannot afford?

Developers will require a minimum 65% luxury apartments to subsidise the 35% affordable element. So we are getting yet more units of unaffordable housing that no one wants or needs squeezed in just to deliver a few affordable units that are desperately in demand.

This failure in previous housing delivery policy is now expected to be addressed by removing all sense of character and place in the drive to now provide housing units. Top-down targets imposed on local areas allow for no sensitivity to heritage, character and place, and may end up largely undeliverable as sites are already at a premium.

As ever the Planning System is being wrongly blamed for the crisis, and then held accountable for delivery that is outside of its influence.

The response to policy papers by tweaking the NPPF will not resolve the underlying causes of the housing crisis but will instead erode the quality and offer of our towns and cities making the UK a less attractive place to live, and may result in social tensions and disharmony similar to the previous impacts resulting in ghettos and sink estates that previous flawed attempts to address housing issues created.

We have responded to the questions put, but suggest that the thinking around addressing the housing crisis needs broadening  beyond planning policy.

Yours sincerely

Councillor Jayne McCoy
Chair of the Housing, Economy & Business Committee, London Borough of Sutton

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June 9, 2018 - Posted by | Information, Liberal Democrats, Opinion | , , ,

1 Comment »

  1. […] Both of these plans set much higher targets for housing delivery than we included in our Local Plan. We think the proposed targets are based on flawed calculations and are undeliverable. Robust responses have been submitted to both: Draft London Plan  NPPF […]

    Pingback by Chair’s update on the work of the Housing, Economy and Business Committee « Diary of a Sutton Councillor | July 9, 2018 | Reply


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