Housing and Planning

Counties are great places to live and work, and where businesses thrive, but they are not without their challenges: house prices are higher than the national average and infrastructure investment has not kept pace with demand. Many county areas have large infrastructure gaps in comparison with their projected housing growth which, risks their ability to create sustainable development and  communities.

If we are to build the best possible communities of the future, we need to consider all the elements that equate to sustainable communities: not just housing, but infrastructure, health, economy, and the environment. These functions are often overseen by different local authorities, and differing public bodies or organisations, and we need to find a way to fuse them together.

The County Councils Network’s solution is the re-introduction of strategic planning: giving areas the opportunity to collaborate and take all of these considerations into account, zooming out and planning for growth and infrastructure over a wider canvas. The CCN has proposed the introduction of Strategic Planning Advisory Bodies: which would bring together all councils, business, and health partners in an area to plan for housing and growth.

This collaborative approach moves away from considering planning in purely housing numbers and is proposed at a time when the government is proposing a number of reforms to the planning system. Its revised National Planning Policy Framework was published at the end of 2023.

CCN has also published recent research, which calls for reforms to the existing developer contributions system, rather than the introduction of a proposed ‘Infrastructure Levy’ – with concerns this could actually reduce the level of infrastructure investment in county areas rather than increase it.

CCN’s unitary councils are housing authorities which have a responsibility for homeless individuals. The network will be working with partners to understand the lessons on homelessness during the pandemic and the ‘Everyone In’ scheme, and will work to ensure CCN members get a fair share of resources for this hugely important agenda.

Housing and Planning Key Asks

Recognise the role of strategic planning in supporting long-term sustainable place-based growth that can bring together social, economic and environmental considerations.

Encourage joined-up strategic planning at a county scale through Strategic Planning Advisory Bodies.

The planning system must remain democratically led, and allow local planning authorities to work with their communities to plan for development that meets their aspirations for the future growth of areas.

Reform the existing developer contributions system, rather than introducing the Infrastructure Levy. Any reform needs to ensure that, in two tier areas, contributions are distributed fairly to cover the range of physical and social infrastructure required for new development.

Extend the Strategic Infrastructure Tariff to county areas to allow them to fund major infrastructure projects that would help to support and unlock growth opportunities.

Latest News on Housing and Planning

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Timelines: County Council Policies
Announcement Date: 01/04/2020