Our two-stage proposals for solving the price and availability of housing nationally

Planning reform is one of two main arguments currently being made for bringing forward new policies which would completely reshape local housing markets across the whole of the U.K.

The other equally pressing argument is about the inadequate way in which houses are marketed currently. Price issues are not simply because of an insufficient supply of new housing. This is not what is causing house prices to escalate beyond the reach of so many people in this country.
(For more on this, please see the other articles on this web site.)

As far as the planning part of the solution is concerned, the required planning reforms should be incorporated into new Neighbourhood Development Plans.

Set areas within each town in these plans ought to be designated as having users restricted to primary residences only – on a permanent basis.

Under these provisions, any houses not being used as primary residences prior to the designation taking effect should have the planning use reverted to primary residential use, as soon as the house in question should become vacant.

Under such proposals, those owning houses falling within such use restrictions ought to have to accept these restrictions for the good of the local community, to bring about good planning for the future of the town. (This could, of course, also cover out of town or parish locations as well.)

These new policies would allow towns to retain sufficient suitable housing for use by those in the local workforce wishing, either to buy or to rent the housing they need for their local occupancy.

The planning system should be tilted away from its excessively stringent development control method and instead be moved towards a new, open and locally focused, rules-based zoning system, based on ‘types of user’.

I am saying towns and their associated hinterlands should zone all existing and future housing within their administration into the following specific categories:

Owner occupation: (by those working locally or retired)

Affordable to buy: (for those starting off in life and by those working locally)

Private rental: (by those working locally)

Social housing lettings: (by those working locally or retired)

Second homes: (for those not working locally)

Holiday lettings:

If considered advantageous planning-wise, a mix of these user designations, which should be specific to each individual house, might be allowed in the same street or location.

This would give planners, advising and, acting in accordance with democratically elected local councillors, appropriate authority to oversee how the local environment should be developed and nurtured, taking into account present community aspirations.

These criteria should all be enshrined within new and upgraded Neighbourhood Development Plans lasting at least for five years at a time.

Towns and Parish councils which only have the current right to comment on planning applications within their area, should instead be given the power to decide them. This would be an absolute game-changer.

In peacetime (i.e. whilst our country is not at war with another), residential planning consents should be delegated to all local town or parish councils for them to determine, depending upon local housing need.

This way, genuinely democratic decisions may be arrived at using local decision-makers whom are best able to understand what the current needs of the community are at any particular time.

Planning enforcement should fully apply to such new use criteria and should naturally be fully implemented by the appropriate planning enforcement authorities.

For one thing, these proposals would have the effect of limiting the amount of holiday lets within each town and this would be one of the best methods to solve the present housing crisis.

If you investigate, the overall lack of housing supply is not being caused by a total lack of existing housing stocks but by too much of it being put into uses such as holiday use. “These ideas are thankfully up for debate in Parliament imminently.” says Peter Hendry, author of The House Price Solution.

Any new planning uses, should certainly define and identify precisely where in each locality, houses should be reserved for primary residences only. The preferred user-type should be defined by each local planning authority – in consultation with local owners, but the local planning authority alone should of course have the final say.

No holiday lets, no socially rented units and of course no second homes should generally be permitted In certain zones. Instead, properties there should be reserved for local buyers and renters alone.

Having this would be equivalent to the construction of previously set but demonstrably unachievable house-building targets. The advantage would be that the housing released this way would be exactly where it would be required within each town and parish location.

Local areas desperately need this. In this way local communities could benefit from a re-designation of sufficient residential properties, as may be required, without having to ruin the existing built environment with excessive and inappropriate over-development.

As the property which would be involved would have already been built, this policy could be brought in without undue delay. After all, in most cases, this was what these properties were originally built for in the first place!

The new Michael Gove planning proposal is positive. There certainly needs to be further regulation of the use of residential property, so that enough housing  can be retained for local people to buy or to rent. Otherwise, whole communities will be ‘hollowed out’ by holiday lets etc., as was explained and has been happening for some time, especially in tourism hot spots.

However, this web site goes further. It proposes changes to the whole way in which houses are marketed as well as bringing in more effective planning controls.

For more information on the necessary house marketing changes, go to:

The House Price Solution

How to Improve all local housing markets in England and Wales

Posted by: Peter Hendry, Housing Valuation Consultant

Author of:– The House Price Solution

All your comments on this subject would be appreciated.