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Eversheds Sutherland comment: Housing white paper - Time to re-evaluate the green belt?

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    Ahead of the launch of the UK government’s housing white paper, Stuart Andrews, partner and head of the national planning team at Eversheds Sutherland, comments:

    “The most important aspect of the white paper is the drive to increase supply, through measures set to force local authorities to assess housing need and to deliver upon their responsibilities. The Secretary of State has made clear that standardised assessment mechanisms will be introduced and this must be welcomed as a solution to the existing arduous and confused process. We have yet to see what the penalty will be for the continued failure to meet this responsibility, and there clearly needs to be some teeth to the emerging legislation if it is to make local authorities effectively plan for their area.

    “You only have to look to a local authority like St Albans to see that it hasn’t produced a Local Plan since 1994, and their recent attempts to produce a new plan have been thwarted by concerns as to their assessment of housing need and the effectiveness of their engagement with neighbouring authorities. The prescriptions proposed by the Secretary of State should correct this delay, but it is inevitable in this and many other constrained locations that the provision of accurate housing figures will put pressure on the green belt.

    “We really need to accept that this is a likely outcome in some locations and re-evaluate the benefit of protecting large swathes of land at the edge of our conurbations, which were predominantly identified over 70 years ago.”

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