asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what is his policy towards proposals in development plans for phasing the release of land for housing and other development; and whether he will make a statement.
Paragraph 8 of my Department's circular on land for housing (15/84) refers to phasing the release of housing land. It recognises that the provision of infrastructure and other services may affect the programming of development, but advises that phasing should not be used as an arbitrary rationing process governing the release of land available for development. The purpose is to discourage the practice of specifying in development plans the precise number of acres or houses to be developed each year. Such precision is inappropriate in plans covering several years ahead. Room for flexibility is necessary to enable developers to respond to short-term changes in housing demand. Highly detailed phasing can impose unnecessary costs and constraints on orderly site development.Where the plan extends over a long period and there are strong pressures for development which it is desirable to resist, it is reasonable for the planning authority to indicate in its plan, in reasonably broad terms, how it intends development to be programmed over the period of the plan. In the absence of such broad phasing, it would be impossible to prevent planning provision from being exhausted in the early years of the plan. The key requirement is that such proposals for phasing should be explained and justified.