By Kevin Underwood, BWF Technical Director
The Planning For The Future consultation builds on various reports commissioned in recent years by the Government. It proposes reforms to streamline and modernise the planning process, bring a new focus to design and sustainability, improve the system of developer contributions to infrastructure, and ensure more land is available for development where it is needed.
I believe that the proposals are likely to create demand for timber windows and doors by increasing opportunities for SME builders and self-builders, placing an emphasis on beautiful, sustainable developments. This contrasts with the present housebuilding market that is dominated by a small number of major housebuilders with the resulting lack of competition leading to low levels of innovation and relatively homogeneous homes being built using the ubiquitous plastic window. The Planning For The Future report says that too often what is built is low quality and considered ugly by local residents.
There is not enough focus on design, and little incentive for high quality new homes and places: There is insufficient incentive within the process to bring forward proposals that are beautiful and which will enhance the environment, health, and character of local areas. Local Plans do not provide enough certainty around the approved forms of development, relying on vague and verbal statements of policy rather than the popularly endorsed visual clarity that can be provided by binding design codes. This means that quality can be negotiated away too readily and the lived experience of the consumer ignored too readily. (page 13, Planning For The Future Report)
There are also proposals that will continue the protection of the Green Belt along with other environmental and heritage assets such as Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONBs), Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs) and Conservation Areas all of which bode well for the use of timber products in these locations.
The BWF will prepare a draft response to the consultation that will be shared with members so they can make comments for inclusion in the final BWF submission to Government. The full consultation document can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/planning-for-the-future
To help members, I have produced a summary of the 24 proposals and 26 consultation can be accessed by clicking here.
This consultation closes at 11:45pm on 29 October 2020.