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RCA's 38 Days of the Housing White Paper; Day 7...

Everyday for the next 32 days we will be providing a link to our responses to the Government's Housing White Paper; here is our reply to Question 7... 

 

Do you agree that national policy should be amended to encourage local planning authorities to consider the social and economic benefits of estate regeneration when preparing their plans and in decisions on applications, and use their planning powers to help deliver estate regeneration to a high standard?

This proposal is considered unnecessary.  The advantages of estate regeneration are well known.  However, it is unclear why this must be a mandatory requirement for Local Authorities in the preparation of plans.  From experience, the timeframe for starting on site for an estate regeneration is substantial.  An example of this is with the regeneration of The Oval housing estate in Hereford.  The planning application for the demolition and redevelopment was submitted in May 2013.  However, since the determination, there have been further delays due to the need to submit material amendment applications; which, at the time of writing, there is still one yet to be determined.  The site has been in the planning process for approximately 4 years.  This time period does not include the pre-application consultation with the Local Authority and engagement with the local community.

Furthermore, in the above example, the benefits are considered limited.  The scheme involved the demolition of 214 existing residential properties; all of which were affordable.  The redevelopment involved the provision of 259 new properties, of which 129 were to be open market properties and the remaining 130 were to be affordable.  As such, the estate regeneration resulting in a net loss of 84 affordable properties.  Furthermore, the development only delivered 45 new homes; despite being in the planning system for 4 years.  Given the scale and urgency of new homes, such an example of estate regeneration has made little progress to addressing housing need.

Even greater delays have been seen in the housing pathfinder areas, with large swathes of land left cleared and communities damaged as a result.  

While estate regeneration is desirable, it does little in the way to positively contribute to immediate housing pressures.  Furthermore, delays often arise due to a Council having little or no ownership of the existing properties.  This causes significant delays in discussing and negotiating the optimal form of redevelopment. 

Ultimately, it is considered that estate regeneration is best left to the role of development management.  The rationale for this is that such estates are located within existing urban areas.  Policies contained within Local Plans are supportive of residential development within existing urban areas.  Accordingly, the principle of estate regeneration would not cause conflict with adopted plans.  To unduly delay Local Plan production due to the need for estate regeneration is considered inappropriate.  These are complex enough even with sufficient funding or the use of CPO powers (because of a lack of skills).  Local Planning Authorities should focus upon securing homes that address housing need in the shortest possible time-frame.  Ideas such as estate regeneration, while welcome, should be seen as an ‘added bonus’ to addressing housing need as opposed to a key contributor.

 

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