Consultation response: Planning For the Future

By: John Bibby and Tarun Bhakta
Published: November 2020

Consultation response: Planning For the Future

The government published a white paper, Planning for the Future, proposing far-reaching changes to the planning system in August 2020. Shelter's response to the consultation on the white paper focusses on proposals for a new infrastructure levy to replace Section 106 and the Community Infrastructure Levy. The response included evidence from Arup, who conducted research on several case studies to consider how the levy might perform and what detailed issues it will need to overcome.

As the country’s leading housing and homelessness charity we have a major interest in how changes to the planning system will affect the country’s housing emergency. We know getting social housebuilding up to where it needs to be will take big changes to achieve. We want to see major changes to our housebuilding system and predominant model of development to deliver the social homes that the country needs.

However, the proposals currently in the white paper won’t deliver the increase in social housebuilding we need when we need it. Planning isn’t the fundamental barrier to increasing housebuilding, as established by the government’s own independent review of build out. It’s particularly the barrier to delivering more social rented homes. We want the government to be serious about increasing social housebuilding, but the major missing ingredient is investment.

Our overall view of the proposal for consolidated infrastructure levy is that it doesn’t make sense to completely replace a system that has become vital for delivering social housing without proof of concept. This is particularly true when known improvements could be made now and when we are in a time of serious economic uncertainty and acute housing need. Replacing the system would be inherently risky. To overcome this risk, the government will need to build in safeguards that make its ambition and commitment to deliver at least as much social housing onsite concrete. And it will need to overcome several fundamental challenges that its proposed infrastructure levy faces. This won’t be easy and may not be possible. We are currently unconvinced that a flat rate levy will be able to deliver as much social housing as the existing system and cannot support the proposal until the government has evidenced that it would do so.