Given the current housing crisis, a parliamentary bill to help identify and free up more land to build homes and give communities as much certainty as possible about where and when development will take place should be good news.
However, the bill lets itself down through a misguided provision to constrain the ability of local planning authorities to introduce planning conditions at the outset of the development planning process.
This provision is intended to speed up the planning process and the delivery of new housing, but there are widespread concerns that it will do just the opposite and result in further delay. The government has relied on rhetoric rather than evidence when it claims that conditions are a barrier to developments progressing.
The Wildlife Trusts have been working in partnership with other environmental organisations under the umbrella of Wildlife and Countryside Link. Our aim is to raise parliamentarians’ awareness of the important role that conditions play in protecting our natural and cultural heritage. And we are not alone in voicing concerns, as the Royal Town Planning Institute, the British Property Federation and the Planning Officers Society have all expressed disquiet about the implications of the proposals.
The bill is currently making its way through the House of Lords and Peers from across the House have raised concerns about the government’s proposed approach on conditions. This cross-party consensus is welcome and we believe should prompt a rethink from the government.