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GOVERNMENT HITS HOME RUN WITH PLANNING REFORM

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Delivering new homes to those who need them most is at the top of the ...
Delivering new homes to those who need them most is at the top of the

government's agenda said housing and planning minister Keith Hill

today.

Speaking at the Chartered Institute of Housing's annual conference in

Harrogate, Mr Hill outlined the progress being made on all fronts,

and announced the publication of an update report on planning reform

- setting achievements in the last six months to make the planning

system fairer, faster and more efficient.

The minister also announced a timetable for delivering reform of the

planning obligations system. A draft of a revised Circular 1/97,

setting out how an improved system of negotiated planning obligations

will operate, will be published for public consultation in autumn

2004.

Mr Hill said:

'The last six months have seen some massive steps forward on the

planning front. We've got the first Planning Act in over a decade,

we've announced 144 bursaries for postgraduate students to study

planning, and we've given£150m to local authorities through

the planning delivery grant.

'We've also published today the timetable for reforming the planning

obligations system. Planning obligations play a vital role in

providing community benefits such as affordable homes, public

transport improvements and open space. It's crucial we have a system

which is fair, fast and delivers.'

Mr Hill also announced a more streamlined approach to the reform of

planning policy. In line with the recommendations of the ODPM select

committee the review and replacement of Planning Policy Guidance

notes (PPGs) with Planning Policy Statements (PPSs) will only take

place as and when necessary in the light of their policy and

strategic significance. He said:

'We've listened to the select committee and agree that we must

concentrate our efforts on revising those parts of planning policy

which will help us deliver thriving, sustainable communities.'

The minister emphasised that reforms to the planning system are all

about delivery. They are helping to take forward the Sustainable

Communities Plan, which has at its core actions to provide more high

quality and affordable, decent homes and to tackle housing market

decline in areas of low demand and abandonment.

The minister added:

'We launched the Sustainable Communities Plan just under 18 months

ago. It is a long-term programme of action. But already we are

beginning to see real change on the ground.

'We have reduced the number of non-decent social homes by 1 million

since 1997. We have doubled investment in affordable housing and

helped over 10,000 key workers to buy their own home in areas where

high prices are affecting recruitment and retention.

'We have reduced the numbers sleeping rough to there lowest ever

recorded, and some 6,000 fewer children are now living in long-term

bed and breakfast accommodation.

'And we are turning the tide on historically low rates of new build

in London and South East - in 2002-02, the numbers of new homes were

up 14% from the year before.

Mr Hill stressed that the government's reforms to the planning system

were part of a package of measures to help deliver more development

of the right type, at the right time, in the right place, meeting the

needs of communities throughout the country.

Notes

1. Keith Hill was speaking at the Chartered Institute of Housing's

annual conference in Harrogate. His speech is available on the ODPM

website at www.odpm.gov.uk

2. The government is taking forward a major programme of reform to

the planning system to support its drive to create sustainable

communities, promote sustainable development and achieve a better

balance of housing supply and demand. The goal is positive planning

to achieve these objectives. The programme was launched in the

Planning Green paper of December 2001 and the Government's policy

statement on planning reform of July 2002 'Sustainable Communities -

Delivering through Planning'.

3. Four ministerial statements on planning reform - Commencement of

the Planning Act; Progress Report on Planning Reform; Update on

Planning Obligations; Revision of Planning Policy Guidance -

http://www.odpm.gov.uk/pns//pnattach/20040135/1.xls

http://www.odpm.gov.uk/pns//pnattach/20040135/2.xls

http://www.odpm.gov.uk/pns//pnattach/20040135/3.xls

http://www.odpm.gov.uk/pns//pnattach/20040135/4.xls

4. The Planning Progress Report June 2004 is published today and

available on the ODPM website. It follows a first progress report

published on 15 December 2003 at the Planning and Productivity

conference.

5. The government is continuing to pursue its two-fold approach to

planning obligations reform, as set out in the consultation document

of 6 Nov 2003:

(i) an optional planning charge which developers can opt for instead

of a negotiated agreement

(ii) revised policy on negotiated agreements, to bring policy into

line with existing practice and case law

6. In March, the Barker Review recommended a Planning Gain Supplement

(PGS), with a scaled back system of planning obligations,

concentrating on direct impacts and affordable housing. The

Chancellor has said he will consider the PGS proposal, and give

conclusions towards the end of 2005.

7. Against this background, the government intend to press ahead

immediately with making some much needed changes to the current

system of negotiated agreements through a revised Circular in the

autumn. Work will also continue on the optional planning charge in

order to be ready to respond quickly if the chancellor decided

towards the end of 2005 not to introduce a PGS. The work on charging

options will include some piloting of possible approaches. The

Advisory Group on Planning Obligations will continue to advise Keith

Hill throughout the reform process.

8. In its report on the ODPM Annual Report 2003 the ODPM Select

Committee gave consideration to the programme for replacing Planning

Policy Guidance notes, which set out national policies on issues such

as planning for housing, transport etc, by more succinct Planning

Policy Statements. The committee recommended (para 25):

'The failure to deliver on commitments to reform the planning system

by issuing revised guidance notes, has led to uncertainty and delays

in planning decisions because of impending revisions to policies. We

recommend that the department redoubles its effort to complete the

revision of national planning policy, and supporting good practice

advice, where necessary, by July 2005. The ODPM would do well

formally to withdraw its stated intention to revise the less

controversial PPG notes.'

9. The office will therefore treat as a priority the review of the

following PPGs: PPG1 (General Policies and Principles), PPG3

(Housing), PPG4 (Economic Development), PPG6 (Town Centres), PPG7

(Countryside), PPG9 (Nature Conservation/ Biodiversity), PPG10

(Planning and Waste Management), PPG11 (Regional Planning), PPG12

(Development Plans), PPG 22 (Renewable Energy), PPG 23 (Planning and

Pollution) and PPG25 (Development and Flood Risk). Consultation has

already taken place or is currently underway on several of these

documents. The revision or replacement as PPSs, of these PPGs will be

completed by early 2005. Any further revisions to PPG3 (Housing) to

take account of the recommendations of the Barker review of housing

supply will be completed later in 2005.

10. About the Delivering Sustainable Communities Summit: The

Delivering Sustainable Communities Summit will be the largest of its

kind in the UK. With 2,000 delegates attending from the UK, Europe

and the wider world to take part in this unique forum. It will set a

vision for the future and create opportunities for both developing

and sharing best practice as well as provide a platform to work with

experts from the public, voluntary and private sectors.

The summit embraces national, regional and local influences and

offers inspiring keynote presentations, thought provoking plenaries,

workshops and expert master-classes. There will also be site visits,

fringe events, an extensive vibrant exhibition and a Gala dinner,

which will host the Deputy Prime Ministers Awards for Sustainable

Communities.

For further information log onto to www.odpm.gov.uk/summit

10. About the ODPM Awards for Sustainable Communities: Nominations

for the award will be considered by a panel of independent judges

with a wide level of expertise in regeneration matters. The whole

process will be administered, on behalf of the ODPM, by BURA, whose

objective is the promotion of best practice in urban regeneration.

Further information on and nomination forms for the award can be

obtained by logging onto www.odpm.gov.uk/awards Alternatively you can

contact BURA. Telephone Tara Burton or Vicki Willis on 020 7539 4030.

Fax 020 7404 9614. E-mail: awards@bura.org.uk

Details of the 2003 Awards can be found at:

http://www.odpm.gov.uk/stellent/groups/odpm_control/documents/contentservertemplate/odpm_index.hcst?n=4043&l=1

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