Headlines: October 27th, 1998

Local councils are calling for more power to help them eliver the Government’s target of 4.4 million new houses by 2011.A report by the Local Government Association calls for a package of financial and planning measures from central government to help councils provide quality housing for all in the future, and stresses in particular the need for a far more flexible approach over building on green or brownfield sites.The ‘Accommodating the Future’ report also says decisions over where to build are best made at the local level and councils should use consumer surveys and capacity studies to inform their local plans.

The report puts forward a number of specific proposals including powers for councils to include targets for housing size, affordability and tenure in their local plans. It also suggests tax incentives to encourage the re-use of contaminated land, and an end to the VAT charge on the conversion and refurbishment of empty property.

It also highlights examples of good practice and suggests what can be done within existing arrangements.

In the West Midlands, for instance, developers are only allowed to build on greenfield sites if they promise to turn half the land over to affordable housing, or offer to develop a brownfield site at the same time.

Wycombe D.C now requires developers working on an area over one hectare to submit full plans to the site owner, residents and the local authority before they can be given the go ahead.