In developing any proposals for unlocking land for housing development it will be important to ensure that they are tested taking into account the location of development (in terms of where in England), the scale of development and the type of land (i.e. greenfield or brownfield land) as a 'one-size fits all' approach will not secure the desired outcomes. It is also essential that, whatever approaches emerge, part of the remit should to reduce barriers, and achieve simplification of processes.
Our manifesto sets out for example, how the current system of development plans could be improved, based on this approach. We would also suggest that there is a real need to improve the way that the need for development is communicated at all levels of government. Housing is needed to support both social and economic objectives and therefore we would question whether focusing on 'growth' really 'tells the story' as it really is.
In areas such as London and many parts of the South East the value of housing land, and therefore the return from sale that a landowner can expect, continue to make development worthwhile. However, it is important to take a wider view on the challenges facing other parts of the country where although house prices are much lower so are wages. Consequently people are still precluded from entering the market - resulting in areas of low 'demand' - often in areas with a 'high' level of objectively assessed need and regeneration priorities. The differential between the cost of building (including the provision of infrastructure, affordable housing, and reasonable profit for the developer) and the financial return for the landowner coupled with the uncertainty of market 'demand' means that land suitable (and allocated) for housing is often just not being delivered. There are instances where the sums are such that, in theory, the landowner would need to pay the developer rather than the other way around. In parts of the country, particularly in relation to brownfield sites which form part of a wider regeneration/renewal strategy, the achievement of that strategy is inhibited as well as houses are not coming forward.