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Volume 687: debated on Wednesday 29 November 2006

My honourable friend the Minister for Housing and Planning has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

Today we are publishing a new Planning Policy Statement 3: Housing, a housing policy document on delivering affordable housing, as well as documents by English Partnerships as part of a consultation on a new National Brownfield Strategy. The purpose of the changes to planning and housing policy is to:

support further increased housing needed across the country;

bring additional brownfield land back into use;

increase the design and environmental standards of new homes and neighbourhoods in order to move towards zero carbon development;

deliver more affordable homes in rural and urban areas;

support more family housing, including more play spaces, parks and gardens for children;

give local authorities more flexibility about how and where to deliver the homes that are needed.

We need to increase the quantity and improve the quality of new homes at the same time.

Government research found that if we do not build more homes, the proportion of 30 year-old couples able to afford their own home will fall from over 50 per cent today to nearer 30 per cent in 20 years’ time.

Forty-five towns and cities have come forward to propose significant increases in new homes and jobs—in addition to the existing growth areas such as the Thames Gateway. These planning changes aim to support those areas to deliver the additional homes we need, while raising standards at the same time.

Planning Policy Statement (PPS) 3: Housing

In December 2005, as part of the Government’s response to Kate Barker’s Review of Housing Supply, we issued a consultation draft of a new Planning Policy Statement: Housing (PPS3). We are today publishing final PPS3. A copy of the new PPS will be placed in the Library of both Houses, together with the accompanying summary of the consultation responses.

PPS3 will underpin the delivery of the Government's key housing policy objectives to deliver more homes, but of higher quality and higher environmental standards to meet the challenge from climate change.

The key policies are:

Local and regional planning bodies will need to take more account of affordability when determining how many new homes are needed in their area.

Local authorities will need to identify more appropriate sites for housing. Councils need to plan 15 years ahead, to ensure they have a rolling five-year supply of sustainable and deliverable sites, in order to prevent much needed new homes being held up by unnecessary delays in the planning process.

Stronger emphasis on improving the quality of design of housing and neighbourhoods. PPS3 makes it clear that local authorities should turn down poor quality applications.

Stronger environmental standards. Developers and planning bodies will have to take account of the need to cut carbon emissions as well as wider environmental and sustainability considerations when siting and designing new homes. The forthcoming planning policy statement on climate change and the new code for sustainable homes will set out further details including plans to move towards zero carbon development.

New emphasis on family homes. For the first time the planning system will be required to consider the housing needs of children, including gardens, play areas and green spaces. Local authorities will have more ability to promote mixed communities and to ensure larger homes are being developed alongside flats and smaller homes.

A continuing focus on brownfield land, retaining the national target that at least 60 per cent of new homes should be built on brownfield land. Local authorities will need to continue to prioritise brownfield land in their plans and will need to set their own local targets to reflect available sites and support the national target. They will also need to take stronger action to bring more brownfield land back into use, supported by the new National Brownfield Strategy led by English Partnerships. In response to the consultation we have also introduced new safeguards so that local authorities can ensure their brownfield approach is delivered, to support regeneration and to prevent developers concentrating only on greenfield sites.

More flexibility for local authorities to determine how and where new homes should be built in their area, alongside greater responsibility to ensure the homes are built. Local authorities will be able to set their own local standards for density (with a national indicative minimum of 30 dwellings per hectare) and for car parking. They will also be able to set separate targets for different kinds of brownfield land where appropriate, to give them more flexibility to shape new developments to meet the needs of their local area.

Stronger policies on affordable housing. The new definition of affordable housing will concentrate public funding and planning contributions on genuinely affordable housing. In addition local authorities will be able to require developer contributions to affordable housing on smaller sites where it is viable.

Stronger emphasis on rural affordable housing. Following the recommendations of the Affordable Rural Housing Commission, local authorities and regional planning bodies will have to take greater account of affordability pressures in rural areas, and the need to sustain village life by providing additional housing that is sensitive to the area and the environment.

Affordable Housing

We are also publishing today a statement on delivering affordable housing, intended to support local authorities and other key players in delivering more high quality affordable housing within mixed sustainable communities by using all the tools available to them. It provides information on how existing delivery mechanisms operate. This statement should be read in conjunction with Planning Policy Statement 3: Housing (PPS3), but is not itself planning guidance. It is available on the Communities and Local Government website at

National Brownfield Strategy

The National Brownfield Strategy team within English Partnerships, in its role as specialist adviser to government on brownfield land issues, has been working with us and a wide range of stakeholders for the past three years to develop a National Brownfield Strategy for England, to help understand and overcome the problems which are preventing brownfield sites from being brought back into use. The strategy considers brownfield use in the widest sense including all types of development as well as various green end uses, such as parks.

The strategy consists of two documents; the first, a substantial best practice guide The Brownfield Guide—A Practitioners Guide to Land Re-use in England; and the second, a short policy discussion paper that sets out the policy issues raised by stakeholders and through English Partnerships’ own work in developing the guide. The policy discussion paper suggests a set of overriding principles for brownfield development and sets out a number of outline policy proposals for further discussion at a stakeholder event in mid-December. The discussion paper will be available on the EP website at

Following the input of stakeholders at this event, English Partnerships will then submit detailed policy recommendations to government early in the new year.