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Developer engagement key to accelerating planning, peers told

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The government’s senior planning adviser has called on housebuilders to work with neighbourhood planners and local authorities to increase the speed and quality of developments.

Giving evidence in front of the House of Lords’ national policy for the built environment committee, the Department for Communities & Local Government chief planner Steve Quartermain said local involvement from developers was key to changing “public perception” of new-build schemes.

LGC’s sister title Construction News reported that Mr Quartermain told peers: “The challenge is public perception of good design.

“If people were more confident that the development in their vicinity was going to be of high-quality design they would be more accepting of it.”

He later added: “We want to get people more engaged with neighbourhood planning at a local level; public acceptance of good design is very important.

“Housebuilders must engage with neighbourhood planning if they want to build.”

The evidence session came after the government unveiled a suite of planning reforms earlier this month.

Among the proposed measures is the introduction of a brownfield registry, with registered sites being granted automatic planning permission.

Proposals also include the government imposing local plans on councils that do not currently have one and taking away planning powers from councils that failed to make decisions on new developments in time.

DCLG director of planning Ruth Stanier, who also gave evidence in last Friday’s session, said 82% of English local authorities had published local plans, while 64% have adopted them.

Ms Stanier rejected suggestions made by peers that England should adopt a nationwide land strategy, as Scotland did as part of its third national planning framework last year.

She told peers: “The government is committed to a bottom-up approach to planning so we have not suggested a national spatial strategy for English land.

“From our point of view, we think that bottom-up approach is more appropriate.”

Asked about the decline in the delivery of new housing over recent years, Ms Stanier admitted increasing numbers was “a very significant challenge that has proven difficult over recent decades”, adding that speeding up the planning process was a key factor.

“We need there to be enough permissioned land in the system and there needs to be enough support of the sector.

“Permissions are at a level where we should be seeing new housing coming forward.”

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