By Prof Chris Willmore, Professor of Sustainability and Law (University of Bristol Law School).
Housing supply was marked as one of the key issues by the incoming government in 2015. Treasury estimates put the need for additional housing in England at between 232,000 to 300,000 new units per year, a level not reached since the late 1970s and two to three times current supply.
Aiming to tackle this issue, Communities Secretary Sajid Javid took the opportunity at 2016 Autumn Conservative Party Conference to announce a package of measures to speed up house building. Successive Secretaries of State have made similar pronouncements, to be followed by rather quieter explanations of why the measures failed, with blame variously afforded to councils, developers, or ‘nimbyism’. This time the ‘nimby’s were at the front of the queue for blame. What is surprising is not the announcement, but what it tells us about the role of the town and country planning, a massive and complex regulatory system that aims to chart a path through the conflicting environment, economic and social pressures affecting decisions about the use of particular pieces of land. (more…)