Hot topic:

Planning for growth


  • The National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) sets out the core principles that planning should objectively “identify and then meet the housing, business and other development needs of an area, and respond positively to wider opportunities for growth”, and “focus significant development in locations which are or can be made sustainable
  • To meet their responsibilities, Local Planning Authorities (LPAs) must prepare a robust evidence base, including:
    • Strategic Housing Market Assessments and Strategic Land Availability Assessments
    • Demonstrating a “clear understanding of business needs within the economic markets operating in and across their area”
    • Assessing the quality, capacity and needs for infrastructure
  • In carrying out these activities, they also have a Duty to Cooperate with neighbouring LPAs and stakeholders, and to consider the viability and deliverability of development
  • Many areas of the country, particularly in London and the South East, are experiencing higher levels of demand for housing than the supply of new homes, resulting in sales and rental values increasing far beyond increases in wages
  • Public sector bodies have been placed under increasing pressure to dispose of assets from their own land and property portfolios to facilitate development activity by the private sector
  • Constraints such as Green Belt and environmental designations, and infrastructure capacity can restrict the availability of viable and deliverable development projects in sustainable locations
  • Public sector spending reductions, coupled with loss of business rates income due to enhanced permitted development rights, have reduced the capacity of LPAs to prepare local plans, determine planning applications and negotiate planning agreements, and adopt and maintain infrastructure delivered by the private sector
  • Rapidly increasing construction costs, divergence of residential values from other uses, and inflation of developable land parcels have all made viability more challenging


  • In recent years, central government funding has been devolved to Local Enterprise Partnerships and City Regions, with those areas that are willing to deliver growth in housing and job numbers benefiting the most from funding opportunities
  • LPAs have also been granted greater powers to borrow, buy and build, in a time of historically low interest rates
  • Central government is rewarding successful delivery of homes and jobs growth, through the New Homes Bonus and proposed reform of business rates retention
  • LPAs that work closely with the private sector can capture land value uplift beyond what is possible through traditional developer contributions, to improve physical and social infrastructure
  • Securing economic and housing growth can prevent decline and share prosperity more widely – in turn, improving quality of life for residents, and reducing demand for public services
  • Targeted public sector intervention to de-risk complex projects and raise land and property values can leverage inward investment from the private sector, catalysing longer term growth


  • Preparing Economic Development Strategies – Thanet District; Shepway District
  • Assessing strategic options for growth, including Green Belt Reviews – Luton Housing Market Area; Cherwell District; Oxford City and Oxfordshire; Swanley and Hextable
  • Assessing the feasibility of large-scale growth projects, and preparing Delivery Frameworks – Romford Town Centre; Shepshed Town Centre
  • Delivering strategic infrastructure to support large scale growth – Rainham Housing Zone;  Fareham and Gosport Strategic Transport and Infrastructure Programme