THE WELCOME desire by the Government to build 300,000 new homes a year is made even more challenging by the abiding failure of previous administrations to meet modest targets, not least because significant schemes always run into hostility from so-called Nimbys intent on thwarting the planning process.
As evidenced by opposition to planning applications in, for example, North West Leeds, Burley-in-Wharfedale and Green Hammerton between Harrogate and York, local councils – and Communities Secretary Sajid Javid – have their work cut out.
It’s all the more reason for Mr Javid – and newly-appointed housing ministers such as Richmond’s well-regarded MP Rishi Sunak – begins a new era of positive engagement with communities to not only make the economic case for additional homes, but articulate coherently how the planning system can benefit existing residents. Planned sensitively, new developments can help to support local services and businesses; make it easier for first-time buyers to gain a foothold on the property ladder and help to finance much-needed local amenities.
The problem, however, is one of trust – infrastructure investment is invariably an after-thought and the fact that Yorkshire councils have more than £20m stockpiled from Section 106 agreements, money paid by developers for community improvements as a condition of their planning consent, adds to the suspicion. For this reason, Mr Javid’s housing policy will need firm foundations if he is to win over ‘not in my back yard’ opponents and see his good intentions turned into bricks and mortar.