It would appear to be an understatement if I were to say 'a lot has happened since I became President' but it would be true. Whilst the full impact of the EU referendum is still be felt, the change of Prime Minister, Secretary of State and Minister could make a noticeable difference to planning within the coming weeks and months.
At the most recent POS forum in July, we heard from Matthew Spry and David Bainbridge about what might happen next in development. The presentations were varied and reached into all of the areas of development, yet it was clear from the discussion that followed that the absence of strategic planning and the focus on housing delivery were still the areas that perplex and frustrate us most.
It is currently very difficult to know where to start if you have the ambition and motivation to plan on a larger scale than your administrative boundary. Duty to Cooperate and devolution are both lengthy processes for local government and the results so far have been reminiscent of a childhood game of snakes and ladders. It would appear that the most difficult and lengthy way of planning across a wide area is to start with trying to agree housing numbers and the easiest is possibly to start with a shared interest in the provision of major infrastructure and work a growth model around it.
What was absolutely clear from our discussion was that local plans are easier to deliver quickly when the issue of housing numbers has already been established and the local council can fully engage in producing a development plan that delivers the numbers. The industry that has grown around the calculation of housing numbers and its corrosive relationship with 5YHLS has eaten away at Local Authorities ability to lead the growth agenda. Following the recession, local authorities have inherited a housing delivery debt with penalties for continuing undersupply. Applications and appeals on 5YHLS cause uncertainty and mistrust within communities. This in turn creates inertia in plan-making nationwide.
Of all of the freedoms in the planning system, the ability to calculate and set your own housing figures has caused the most delay. If we are to move forwards positively we need to have certainty about levels of growth, we need two years to complete our plans to deliver that growth and we need to be creative and use all of the other freedoms that the planning system offers to deliver places.
Anna Rose, President 2016/17