“Grasp the opportunity to build back better”

By Michael HardwareDirector of Planning and Property

Rt Hon Chris Pincher MP, Minister of State for Housing spoke later last month at the Building Garden Communities Conference organised by the Essex and Kent developers groups in conjunction with the South East Local Enterprise Partnership (SELEP 

Chris Pincher started by saying that proper placemaking was crucial to provide housing for future generations. It is important that the industry builds back better after the pandemic.

Garden communities have a key role in that process which is why the Government has invested £14million in capacity funding to enable new garden communities to come forward. In addition, 17 garden communities are benefitting from the £1billion Housing Infrastructure Fund to unlock development and provide infrastructure first.

This fund is being replaced by the National Home Building Fund (NHBF). This £7.1billion fund will go further enable over 860,000 new homes to be built in the next four years. The fund is expected to grow by £10billion at the next spending review. The minister cited Ebbsfleet as a glowing success with 1,500 new homes already completed and that rising to 2,500.

Considering and delivering garden communities is a long term strategy and requires local authorities to decide delivery mechanisms. The Government is not prescribing any particular route with some using partnerships whereas others development corporations.

The minister said that key parts of the planning reforms coming forward are beauty and design. This is not just the design of homes but of whole communities. Not only design codes but sustainability as climate change is a major issue facing us all today. He also talked about the planning reforms making the system more engaging, more transparent and quicker – a fast track to beauty.

He concluded by saying that the industry faced a real challenges but also a huge opportunity. It needs to grasp that opportunity in the post-pandemic world and build back better.