Turley Question Time draws in North West developers

Planning consultancy Turley was joined by more than 50 developers, house builders and consultants from across the North West in Manchester last week (15 May 2014) for a Question Time styled debate.

The hour long discussion, chaired by David Manley QC, and with Jennie Daly (UK Director of Planning, Taylor Wimpey) and Eamonn Boylan (COE, Stockport Council) as panel members, touched on a number of key issues in the housing sector including the impact of the NPPF and PPG, neighbourhood planning, localism, CIL and garden cities.

The panel agreed that, despite the pro-growth narrative of the NPPF, the development industry is still being suppressed by a ‘fear of development’ within local communities and a lack of funding for infrastructure needed to deliver large-scale housing allocations.

However, the panel were unanimous in their agreement that much good had come from the NPPF in delivering growth but that the real impacts would be felt over the longer term. There were also concerns expressed that an early review of the NPPF was not necessary and could add to a period of uncertainty for developers and communities. This could result in reduced confidence in the planning system to deliver growth.

With a general election looming, the panel were in general consensus that housing issues would continue to be an area of considerable political debate and focus. Concern was raised, however, that there would be a hiatus in key decision making during the pre-election period with house builders generally reluctant to promote large housing schemes not already in the planning system. This has the potential to ‘cap’ the momentum that appears to be developing based on the number of residential planning applications being granted and upturn in housing starts.

It was also evident that the house building industry acknowledges the growing importance of neighbourhood plans, but can find the process is a ‘closed shop’ to developers.

The debate also launched an annual survey conducted by Turley examining the five-year land supply requirements of local authorities across England.

The research, based on data produced by local councils to assess the adequacy of the supply of land for new housing, shows that 67% of councils in England cannot demonstrate a five year supply of sites – the minimum required under Government policy. In the North West, there is estimated shortfall of around 52,000 homes.

Steve Bell, Manchester Office Director, Turley summarising the event, said:

“Housing in the North West is the hot topic, and this has been demonstrated by the overwhelming turnout today at our very first Question Time event.

“It is no great surprise that over two thirds of local authorities in England have failed to meet their five year land supply requirements. It is still difficult for developers to get a seat at the table during the neighbourhood planning process and, as a result, local authorities are struggling to understand how best to enable pro-development neighbourhood planning.”

The Turley Question Time panellists included:

  • Antony Pollard, Director, Turley Economics;
  • Sam Ryan, Director, Turley Planning;
  • Jennie Daly, UK Director of Planning, Taylor Wimpey; and
  • Eamonn Boylan, the CEO of Stockport Council.