Delivering more homes

As part of the ongoing review of the Scottish planning system RTPI Scotland has produced a series of thinkpieces aimed at providing workable solutions to supplement the proposals made by Scottish Government in its consultation paper, Places, People and Planning. A thinkpiece by Fraser Carlin and Robbie Calvert advises how we can create a more collaborative, delivery focused approach to housing in the planning system. It must be remembered however that there is no ‘silver bullet’ solution and planning alone cannot accelerate the number of new homes built.

Proposal 1: An enhanced National Planning Framework (NPF) should say how many houses should be built, and where

An enhanced NPF or a National Development Plan (NDP) should set out minimum requirements for housing provision, aligned with national housing strategies, in terms of:

  • Housing numbers to be built in a specific time period
  • The broad location of where these should be built with precise locations to be identified through statutory Regional Planning Partnerships and Local Development Plans (LDPs)
  • The tenure mix required including the provision of affordable housing in line with Local Development Plans and Strategic Housing Investment Programmes (SHIPs)
  • National infrastructure requirements and how these will be resourced, tying in with The Scottish Government’s Infrastructure Investment Plan

It is important that a national housing strategy within an enhanced NPF is integrated with the other national strategies that have spatial implications, such as the Infrastructure Investment Plan, the National Transport Strategy and the Affordable Housing Development Plan. If housing issues persist across local authorities the introduction of a ‘statement of common ground’ could help support regional housing allocation though LDPs.

The investment and delivery of infrastructure alongside new approaches to land assembly are critical in the creation of housing markets. Options to create special purpose vehicles to work with local partners to achieve this should be considered. The use of both up front land assembly and Land Value Capture (LVC) by local authorities are proposed as mechanisms to unlock major housing developments. Land assembly powers could be increased through reducing complexity and uncertainty associated with Compulsory Purchase Orders (CPOs).

Proposal 2: Two-year Housing Delivery Programmes should be used to overcome barriers to delivery

In order to ensure that all sites planned for housing in LDPs are delivered, RTPI Scotland believes that two-year Housing Delivery Programmes, set within the context of simplified LDPs, should be introduced. If housing delivery in a local authority area were to fall markedly below annual requirements, the need for a Housing Delivery Programme could be triggered. The two-year Housing Delivery Programme would take the form of a project management plan framed by corporate leadership and collaboration. Crucial to the success of the Housing Delivery Programme would be cooperation and support from other sectors and professions as well as transparency of information regarding sites proposed for allocation.

Housing Delivery Programmes would include:

  • Clear identification of barriers to delivery
  • Key organisations, people and resources needed to overcome barriers
  • Identification of special delivery processes for assisting delivery
  • Information on infrastructure investment cycles

Incentives should be created to bring small parcels of land forward and encourage small scale developers through financial incentives such as revaluation of investment tied up in road bonds. If a delivery programme is unable to overcome barriers to implementation a feedback loop into plan updates would encourage revisions to ensure that the sites identified in LDPs are viable.

Read more about RTPI Scotland’s work on the planning review.

Image: Commonwealth Athletes Village, Glasgow

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