More power is to be transferred to local people in Yorkshire and the Humber when the area’s regional strategy becomes the latest to be formally abolished, Communities Secretary Eric Pickles announced today (29 January 2013).
The top-down approach of regional strategies from the last administration imposed centrally set building targets on communities and coincided with the lowest peacetime levels of housebuilding since the 1920s.
Planning and housebuilding works best when it is locally led and people have more control in shaping and deciding on development in the places they live. From 22 February 2013 councils and local people across the former government office region for Yorkshire and Humber will once again have this control after an order to abolish the strategy was laid in Parliament today.
The abolition of this regional strategy reinforces the importance of the Local Plan, produced with the involvement of local communities, as the keystone of the planning system. It is this approach that will help deliver the homes, jobs and infrastructure we need.
As the City of York does not currently have a Local Plan in place with defined green belt boundaries, the York green belt policies that are part of the regional strategy will be retained. The coalition government is determined to protect the green belt and safeguard our natural and cultural heritage.
Eric Pickles said:
“The flawed top-down targets of regional planning built nothing but resentment.
“By giving people the ability to shape the places in which they live, development happens by consensus not conflict.
“The abolition of this regional strategy is another important step in devolving power from unelected quangos back to communities and elected councils across both Yorkshire and Humber.”
The government made clear its commitment to return decision-making on housing and planning to local councils and to end the era of centrally imposed targets that build resentment to development. We are introducing powerful incentives to ensure communities benefit from development.
The Localism Act 2011 legislated to provide powers to abolish the last administration’s regional strategies. European Union law requires strategic environmental assessments to be undertaken.
The government announced councils who welcomed new development in the last year will share £661 million from the New Homes Bonus scheme, which pays a cash bonus for every new home built or brought back into use. Over the next year, England’s 353 councils are set to share in the cash payout after delivering 142,000 new homes in the last year, including 58,000 affordable properties, and bringing a further 13,000 long-term empty properties back into use.
The government has also announced that communities that tackle the legacy of inadequate house-building and choose to accept new housing will benefit directly from new generous cash incentives. Neighbourhoods that take a proactive approach by drawing up a neighbourhood development plan, and securing the consent of local people in a referendum, will receive 25% of the revenues from the community infrastructure levy arising from the development that they choose to accept.
In addition the government is Getting Britain Building and has:
- invested £19.5 billion of public and private funding in a programme to deliver 170,000 affordable homes, which is on track and exceeding expectations
- introduced the FirstBuy scheme, which will help 27,000 first-time buyers purchase a new-build home, and the NewBuy Guarantee, which will help tens of thousands of aspiring homebuyers take their next step on the housing ladder with a fraction of the normal deposit, as little as 5%; leading house builders have recently praised these schemes for boosting the sales of new homes
- identified enough formerly used, surplus public sector land to support 100,000 new homes, and already sold enough of this land to deliver 33,000 new homes
- introduced the £1.3 billion Get Britain Building and Growing Places schemes which will unlock stalled housing sites across the country
- set aside £225million for accelerating large-scale sites that already have planning permission and the support of local communities, but are struggling in the current economic climate; the first of these sites near Exeter and Milton Keynes have already been unlocked, and will bring forward the construction of 12,000 homes, starting this year
The government’s reform package is working. The latest housebuilding figures show starts on new homes are up by 18% compared to the previous quarter, and year-on-year completions are up by 6%. Housing starts are 52% higher than 2009, and recent housing supply figures also show net supply is at the highest level since the tail-end of the unsustainable housing boom in 2008.
You can download the ‘Strategic environmental assessment on revoking the Yorkshire and Humber regional strategy: post-adoption statement’ from the consultation page.
You can download the written ministerial statement (PDF 62KB) on the revocation of the Yorkshire and Humber regional strategy from the Parliament website.