Archive for February, 2017

Be positive: the Housing Minister’s challenge to CPRE

A week ago the Housing Minister Gavin Barwell gave CPRE’s annual lecture – you can read it here and view it here. The theme of the speech was familiar: how can we build more new homes? But it was a great improvement on similar speeches I have heard, for two reasons.

First, it was not based on the assumption that planning restrictions are the main reason we build too little. Pointing out that English councils granted planning permissions for 277,000 new homes in the year to September 2016, Barwell said: “If I was confident that all those homes would be built quickly we wouldn’t have needed to publish a housing white paper. But I’m not confident. There’s a large and growing gap between homes being granted planning permission and homes being started. And people can’t live in a planning permission.”

So the focus of the speech was not how to weaken planning but how to get homes built – ‘fixing our broken housing market’. Hurrah for that. CPRE has been banging on for ages about how the business model of the big builders militates against a step change in output; about the need to help small builders; about the merits of custom build; and about why we should not fixate on numbers alone, but also consider quality, affordability and, in particular, the special needs of rural areas. It was good to hear many of these themes rehearsed in the Minister’s speech.

The second reason for liking Gavin Barwell’s speech was that he engaged with legitimate concerns about development. Continue reading ‘Be positive: the Housing Minister’s challenge to CPRE’