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Shropshire legal expert praises new Government approach to housing
24 Feb 2017
by Simon Alton

A planning expert in Shropshire says the Government should be commended for acknowledging the crisis in the housing market and taking steps to reconcile it.

David Brammer, head of planning at Lanyon Bowdler Solicitors, was speaking following a debate with the Housing and Planning Minister, Gavin Barwell MP, in Birmingham on Tuesday (February 21).

During the discussion with representatives from local government, the housing and planning industry, the Minister said there was a real need for everyone to work together to ensure people had more chance to buy their own home in the future.

David said: “It was a very stimulating and useful debate about the issues which arise from the recent White Paper regarding housing policy.

“White papers are policy documents produced by the Government that set out their proposals for future legislation and this exercise could be seen as a fact-finding mission by civil servants and the Minister, both of whom demonstrated a very good understanding of the brief they had and the issues involved.

“The Minister was exceptionally candid and upfront about the crisis the Government and the country is facing in providing housing, whilst at the same time many local authorities have still not managed to put Local Plans with a sufficient five-year housing supply to address the housing needs in their areas.

“Controversial issues such as green belt policy are at the forefront of the debate and the current government guidance is constantly being scrutinised to clarify the relevant tests.

“The Minister recognised that there is no ‘quick fix’ to the issue but he is to be commended for taking this as a roadshow around the country because there are different issues in all of the regions of the UK and he expressed a willingness to work with all parties and authorities to try to find solutions and political consensus – recognising that governments of the past 30 or 40 years have singularly failed to do this.”

He added: “It is quite common for proposed housing development to meet objections locally about infrastructure, affordability and design, but there does seem to be an attitude change in society towards the provision of housing.

“This involves a recognition that the right sort of housing can provide sustainable development.

“It does appear as though local communities are now more likely to support housing in their area than previously, and this is also a recognition of the benefits that housing can bring in keeping local facilities such as local pubs, schools and shops open.

“Locally, Shropshire Council is currently undertaking a Call for Sites to encourage landowners to bring sites forward for development and to provide more housing numbers.”

David said that this consultation into potential new sites for housing was a good example of opportunities to provide the “right kind of housing in the right place” in the county.

The Government has expressed a willingness to address these issues and to adjust planning policy to ensure that the necessary housing for future generations is provided.

David added: “Lanyon Bowdler and its planning and property teams are very engaged with these discussions and will continue to work to serve the needs of its clients in responses to the changing government policies on housing and planning.”