Responding to the publication of the Government’s White Paper on Housing, Dan Lewis, Senior Infrastructure Policy Adviser at the Institute of Directors, said:
“Having a decent stock of affordable housing is important to businesses so that their staff can live within a reasonable commute, and so that people can move to where the job opportunities fit their skills. The Government clearly recognises the scale of the problem and have put forward some useful suggestions on speeding up the planning system, but we are not convinced they can really be described as radical. We sympathise with anyone trying to reform the planning system, as even minor changes provoke howls of outrage, but we needed more from this White Paper.
“The Green Belt may be a political hot potato, but we were looking for an acknowledgement today that much of it is not beautiful countryside. A way forward would be to grade the green belt, separating woodland and public spaces that should be protected, from agricultural land, some of which could be released for housing. This could be offset by councils creating more parks or playing fields, which is what people really want from the green belt.
“We would have liked to see bolder ideas, like making councils compete with each other to get planning fees from developers. Decisions would still be made by elected councillors, but house builders wouldn’t be needlessly held up by over-stretched planning departments.
“The Government also needs to acknowledge that new building is only a part of the solution. Many more properties would be available to buy if we reduced inheritance tax, capital gains tax and stamp duty.”