The first two parts of this post identified the clear need for new housing and the important role that the private rented sector needs to make going forward. This part makes three broad suggestions:
Firstly, recognise the limits of Localism. Once the right locations for growth are identified, the debate should not be around whether but how to deliver. Recent changes to the Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects regime allow a wider range of projects to be dealt with under Development Consent Orders. Homes were excluded. Why? Proposals that would make a significant contribution (say 3,000 homes or more) could and should benefit from the DCO regime, the use of CPO and other powers to bring them forward.
Secondly, planning should plan positively for new settlements at a sensible scale relative to needs. If there is significant unmet need in an area then the LEP should be charged with reviewing the best locations for major new development.
Thirdly, we should think about what a new Towns Act would need to look like and how the layering of European law would affect the process for adopting it. Whilst the compensation regime will look different in some ways to the 1950s and 1960s approach, it will have to perform the same role – assembling land at scales and values that allow masterplanning and design excellence, using longer term land values to pay for the infrastructure, and a fund of part private/part public monies to meet the upfront costs of getting it done in return. The process itself should learn the lessons of the doomed rush to Eco Towns and reflect the role that Community Interest Companies and other structures can play in providing a long term stake in making new places.