The New Builds Are Coming - The Benefits

Working in land promotion means we are frequently met with distrust from local residents.

According to the recent study by YouGov, it was revealed that only 2% of people surveyed trusted developers to behave honestly and only 7% trusted their local council to make decisions about large scale development that would be good for the local area (although the development industry is not alone with people trusting charity chief executives and the clergy also at an all-time low).

Creating and managing places is complex. Clearly developers need to make profits and their investment needs to be socially beneficial whilst also protecting important countryside. Like much in life, achieving both requires difficult choices and trade-offs to be made. Design quality of new build is often quoted as part of the reason for lack of trust, however, in our experience public opposition to proposals is less about design but more about the principle of development or the ability of physical or social infrastructure to accommodate it e.g. roads, school or doctors places.

At Catesby Estates, we want to help ease the housing shortage, which is felt by too many. Catesby are land promoters who work with landowners to obtain outline planning permission and then market the site to house builders securing the highest possible financial return for the landowner. As part of our applications, Catesby secures obligations on house builders including level of financial obligations, the percentage of affordable housing as well as amount of public open space. 

Part of the problem we experience is the public perception of what the planning system is and can do. Objectors often raise issues that are not planning matters or are based on assertions rather than evidence, feeding a misconception that consultation is not meaningful. Government is partly at fault, the rhetoric around Neighbourhood Plans being a prime example – communities often feel these are a way to stop development, the reality being they are expected to choose development sites.

Catesby therefore explain how the benefits are delivered from housing development – for instance explaining the unavoidable time lag between a development starting and infrastructure being delivered which understandably means that for many, the link between the two is lost. Rather than leaving people with the perception that the Council is delivering road improvements or new classrooms, instead we seek to make it obvious where funding has come from.  

It is understandable that people feel a huge emotional attachment towards their homes and neighbourhoods however, closing the gap between what the public expect and what development can deliver is essential to eroding the distrust.

The Churchill Home Insurance found that with an average of 2.2 objections to every application, and 870,000 planning application submitted since the start of 2017, this equates to 80 objections every hour over the past three years. However, even assuming there are elements of double counting, this still means over 95% of the population don’t object to development. The question of the level of prominence given to a relatively small number of objectors compared to the size of a council, should be carefully considered.

Evidence from House Builders Federation (2015) found the huge positive impact the housing industry has on the economy;

  • Supports 600,000 jobs;
  • Contributes £19.2bn a year to the UK economy (compare to £8.5bn from farming for instance)
  • Spends £5.5bn with suppliers, 90% of which stays in the UK
  • Generates £1.4b per year in tax revenues
  • Provides 32,000 affordable homes, worth £2.3bn, built or financed by private housing building with a further £1bn paid to local authorities as a contribution for affordable housing

There is no single solution to the housing crisis but it’s important to remember the benefits that new housing can bring. There is therefore a responsibility on the industry to be clear on what it can deliver. House building activity contributes economically in different ways including providing jobs, tax revenues and contributing funding for local infrastructure and communities. And with Government targeting further increases in supply, the knock-on benefits are set to increase still further.

Could your land have development potential?  Find out more about land promotion here.

Dawn Adams - Planning Manager

01926 836910 / dawna@catesbyestates.co.uk