NIMBYism (or is it?)

The progress of the Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill was delayed last week during the report stage.  The reason for the delay? The perennial problem of housing, the lack of it and the disinclination to accommodate it.

An amendment to the Bill was put forward to make housing targets advisory rather than mandatory.  And it attracted wide support.  46 MPs backed the amendment led by Theresa Villiers.  The scale of the “rebellion” meant that voting was pulled to allow more time for engagement with MPs. 

Mandatory housing targets are at odds with the principle of localism and offend homeowners unwilling to accommodate additional residential development in their areas.  Conversely, the potential problem with merely advisory targets is the gulf between housing need and housing supply widens.  Clearly a significant number of Tory MPs think voters are more concerned about the negative impacts of development than a shortage of homes.

In truth the issues are more complex.  People are concerned that housing is too expensive in many areas, and that there is inadequate supply, not to mention the more extreme situation in relation to affordable housing.  However, they are also concerned that developments will compromise their villages, towns and cities, not simply as a blot on the landscape but because they are not delivered with the infrastructure they require.

Concerns are valid if developments make essential services inaccessible to existing residents and cause gridlock because there is inadequate public transport provision.  And what those issues really come down to is money.  The Bill proposed a new Infrastructure Levy, which is similar to the current CIL.  However, one key difference is the proposed timing for payment, occupation of the building.  Up front infrastructure delivery can minimise valid opposition to development, yet the new timing for payment of the Levy means more funding to bridge the gap will be needed if delivery is not to lag behind.    

We will find out whether the 46 MPs have forced a change on housing targets in due course.  Let’s hope that this hiatus in the Bills progress for increased engagement with MPs does not go on for too long.


Posted on 11/29/2022 by Ortolan

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