Attention is starting to focus on the government’s planning reforms. The expectation is that Parliament will be asked to look at a new Bill, as per the Queen’s speech in May, but the debate over whether or not all or any of the government’s ideas are good ones seems likely to hot up. Central concepts appear to be the idea of “zoning” and the replacement of section 106 obligations with more of a flat levy, building on (but also largely replacing) the Community Infrastructure Levy which was introduced in 2010. Given that two-thirds of planning gain is effectively in the form of affordable housing, this is an important topic for housing associations.
There is something about town planning which encourages the have-a-go hero … so in the spirit of “how hard can it be?” here are our thoughts:
Firstly, every government has a go at planning. It’s a bit like hospitals. The evidence suggests two things:
- Getting it right is difficult – the impact of rules on behaviour is easier to model in theory than to get right in practice.
- Frequent change is unhelpful – there is an industry and common language out there and the system works better when the rules don’t keep changing.