Examination of Witnesses

Part of Levelling-up and Regeneration Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 4:40 pm on 23rd June 2022.

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Alex Morton:

I am a little more sceptical on parts of the devolution agenda. It has worked very well in some places, such as Manchester, but less so in others. London has probably one of the biggest housing backlogs, and obviously it has had a Mayor for a very long time.

For me, the most interesting and best thing about the Bill is the focus or push around trying to make local plans more delivery-oriented, moving towards a system of local plans as delivery mechanisms and not huge, long lists of policies by moving some of that policy up to a national level. It would be good to discuss that further. I think that is the right aim, but there are some difficulties in how that is planned to be done. The shift away from a five-year land supply is also welcome.

Listening to people earlier, what often came up is planning issues x, y and z. Really, planning is just to deliver enough land, so that enough homes are built, we meet housing delivery targets and we do not have a housing crisis. Almost everyone else has a strong interest in planning doing mixed communities, planning doing sustainability, planning doing an ageing society and planning doing obesity. Planning is not really meant to do all those things; it is not some kind of titan that can hold the world on its shoulders. The whole point of planning is that there are sufficient land released to a different mix of developers who will build enough homes so that we do not have a housing crisis. If the Minister is inclined to put in place some kind of definition of what planning is, I would say that planning is designed to make sure that we build sufficient homes of sufficient quality in the right places—full stop. If the planning system could just focus on doing that, we might have less of a housing crisis, with everyone shoehorning everything else under the sun—important and noble though those other things are—into the planning system.