Proposed new planning rules could hinder economic growth in North East England, according to the region’s leading business organisation.
In its response to the Government’s consultation on changes to the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF), the North East England Chamber of Commerce has expressed concerns that measures aimed at boosting housing numbers in the South East would have the opposite effect in regions such as the North East.
Chamber Head of Policy and Campaigns Jonathan Walker said: “The new methods for calculating local housing needs would potentially lead to a 20% cut in planned housing numbers in our region, which would render the economic growth and jobs targets contained in the region’s Strategic Economic Plans impossible to deliver.
“If we are to build a stronger, more vibrant North East economy, we need to ensure people have good quality places to live. Given the Government’s stated commitment to closing economic performance gaps between regions, we find it hard to believe they’ve brought forward a policy to solve the nation’s housing crisis which results in actually building fewer new homes than we do now in the very parts of the country which need to focus on economic growth.”
The response proposes that Government requires local planning authorities to demonstrate how their local plans will contribute to wider economic growth targets and that planning inspectors back ambitious plans where they are aligned to these targets.
The Chamber’s response also raises concerns that new rules relating to congested infrastructure could be used to suppress growth where the impact of new developments on highways would be considered ‘severe’.
Jonathan Walker said “It is widely accepted that the strategic road network in North East England has been neglected for investment over several decades and is not of an equivalent standard to other regions.
“The test of what constitutes a severe impact on routes in the North East should be significantly different to what represents a severe impact on three- or four-lane motorways in other regions. If there is a severe impact on roads in North East England, a region with a need for new development to grow its economy and with no shortage of land availability or environmental capacity, that should be a trigger for Government investment in our transport infrastructure rather than to block development.”