Sunday, June 10, 2007

Trashing the Green Belt

Not enough houses are being built, supply is outstripping demand, ergo: build on the Green Belt. Sounds plausible doesn't it? Minette Marrin certainly thinks so, writing in the Sunday Times. Her diagnosis is that despite huge demand for houses, despite the guaranteed profits that can be made by housing development, it is the reluctance to release Green Belt land that is the sand in the gears of the housing market. In fact, the problem is more technical, more boring, and a little less useful as the basis for a column in a Sunday broadsheet. As previously posted on this blog, the government has bolloxed up the process by which local authorities organise planning and development. By introducing the fiendishly complicated and legally flawed Local Development Frameworks in place of the tried and robust Local Plans they slowed down the release of land for housing to a snail's pace. That is the problem, not the use or otherwise of Green Belt. Ask a professional planner, or just try to find one with a good word to say about LDFs. The recent Planning White Paper has suggested some reform the LDF process, which is at least an admission that it is less than perfect, but it still only proposes tinkering around the edges. Bottom line: it is not a choice between Green Belt or housing shortage, it is a choice between a bureaucratic nightmare of a process that takes years to deliver and going back to something like the way things used to work, with 'work' being the operative word.

1 comment:

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