Talk to some developers about the introduction of the Localism Bill and you’re likely to be met with a sharp intake of breath or a sigh.
I imagine the concern is caused by the obligation for developers to ‘bring the proposed application to the attention of a majority of the persons who live at, or otherwise occupy premises in the vicinity’.
Of course, this all about giving communities more planning autonomy, handing them the power to decide the types of development that can be granted automatic planning permission in their area.
It will dramatically change the whole way that new development proposals are accepted or rejected. But surely, that’s got be a good thing and viewed as a help to developers, not a hindrance.
According to Greg Clark, the decentralisation minister, “communities will be able to protect what makes their town or village special, including green spaces, and have their say on the design and location of news homes”.
For us, this final point on housing is music to our ears. As a specialist affordable housing developer, we already work together with housing associations and RSLs to consult closely with communities about the types of homes that are not only required, but desired.
More engagement with the communities we’re working in can only help us in our quest to provide the right type and mix of housing. Putting the onus on both developers AND communities to take the planning and consultation process more seriously has to be welcomed.
Rather than being seen as a threat, it should be seen as an opportunity to provide better housing, better places and better communities.
Let’s hope this period of parliamentary consultation delivers a Localism Bill that really works. If it does it may finally allow us to strike the right balance between standardising neighbourhood planning across the country and providing enough flexibility to reflect unique local circumstances.
Greg Mulligan is a director of Mulbury Homes