2. Why do we need planning reform?
Britain’s housing crisis is caused by a deep housing shortage, especially in the most prosperous cities and towns. We have built much less than other rich countries for decades – for example, while England currently builds between 220,000 and 240,000 new homes a year.the highest in decades, France builds approximately 380,000 a yeara decline from a recent high of nearly 500,000 before the financial crisis. Japan currently builds 860,000 homes a yeareven though its population is shrinking.
The English planning system causes this shortage of housing by making its construction very difficult, in two ways. First, it imposes explicit bans on new construction in much of the country; By far the most important and expensive of these is the green belt, which exists to block the growth of the country’s most economically important cities and towns.
Second, the planning process for almost all remaining land is highly discretionary and almost all major decisions are made on a case-by-case basis. The uncertainty this creates in the development process reduces the number of new homes and commercial buildings being built, as it is possible to propose a new development that complies with the local plan and yet be rejected.
England’s system is internationally unusual: most other countries have no building bans outside their largest and most innovative cities, and instead have rules-based planning systems where applications that follow the local plan must receive planning permission. Introducing these rule-based decision-making processes is the key objective of reform planning.
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