NPPF and housing regeneration
The revised draft of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) was discussed at our round table on Friday with WYG's National Planning Board Chair, Gerald Sweeney, and Swindon Borough Council's LEP and Strategic Projects Lead, Philippa Venables along with L&G Capital's Head of Urban Regeneration, Rachel Dickie, Sir Steve Bullock, former Mayor of Lewisham and current Deputy Lieutenant of Greater London and Catalyst Housing Group's Executive Director Property and Growth, Tom Titherington.
The UK Government has concluded the consultation period for its revised draft of the NPPF, due for publication in July, but WYG while welcoming the changes in the document, has said that more clarification is needed, certain stakeholders in the planning process have not been included to the extent that they might have been, strategies for aligning growth in housing and employment have been diluted and there should be more engagement with LEPs in the planning process.
WYG's Gerald Sweeney stated that the UK is so far behind in housing provision that it has been difficult to provide the necessary link with employment. He sees the expansion of the 'garden city' as one solution, where those living in properly laid out areas can work locally. (See Gerald's video interview at the event below)
Philippa Venables of Swindon Borough Council (see her video clip above of her talking about Swindon's town centre development ) said:
'I certainly echo Gerald's point about the essential link between housing and economic growth. There will also be political tension between the objective of one million homes in the Oxford - Milton Keynes - Cambridge Arc and our aspirations for two urban extensions. We have 8,000 homes - the biggest green field project in the UK - being built to the east of Swindon and 4,000 to the west, with huge government investment on infrastructure to link those up, unlock employment land and improve connectivity to the town centre. We are looking to see what flexibilities come out of the plan consultation on duties to co-operate. Another concern is our power of land assembly and working with partners who have increased CPO powers to unlock land.'
Rachel Dickie of L&G Capital (see her video clip above on constructing housing off-site) commented on the importance of creating more homes in town and city centres, as part of an overall strategy to make these places more vibrant:
'From our development in Bracknell - rebuilding two thirds of the town centre with Schroders and the council - the biggest change we are seeing now is the addition of town centre residential. There are 300 plus apartments going up and also offices converting to homes. We have done what we can to make this a truly mixed use town centre but now we need to plan for two years time for people being there after 6 pm and to create an evening and night time economy. I think Swindon has similar challenges."
See below Gerald Sweeney's interview below recorded after the round table discussing housing and planning advice in more detail.