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North East England Chamber of Commerce has written to Government setting out how housing and development have the potential to play a key part of levelling up the country.

In response to the Planning for the Future consultation the Chamber highlighted the need for a proportional distribution of housing. It also urged Government to use new homes as potential for economic growth not to focus solely on affordability. 

Marianne O’Sullivan, Chamber policy adviser said: “Housing targets need to meet local needs and achieve growth and job creation. Without this we will see a reduction in the number of homes in the North East which will harm economic growth as the formula to calculate future housing needs is not appropriate for our region.

“Housing and development need to be a key part of the Government’s ‘levelling up’ agenda to drive economic growth and regenerate areas, including the renovation and refurbishment of outdated housing stock.”

This is even more important in the current economic climate with the region needing investment and a quality housing stock to a fair recovery and for people to stay and move to the region

Overall, we need to see more funding for local planning offices and an acknowledgement of local differences within planning reforms rather than a one size fits all approach. Housing methodology and the new infrastructure levy need to fit with the levelling up agenda rather than discouraging development in the North East.

The new levy would be payable upon completion on a development and be based on an assessment of the final value of the development above a set threshold.

The proposals for the infrastructure levy could negatively impact the North East as land values are lower here. The introduction of the levy could have a significant adverse impact by slowing the supply of land for development. This could harm the levelling up agenda if the levy has an adverse impact in low value areas and relatively little impact in high value areas. There can’t be a one size fits all approach as land values across the country vary.

Justin Hancock, principal development planner, Banks Group said: “As one of the region’s leading development companies, the Banks Group welcomes North East Chamber of Commerce’s participation in the Planning White Paper Consultation. The strength of the Chamber is that it represents a wide range of businesses across the North East of England. Regular development forum meetings enable members to brief the Chamber’s officers about ongoing issues and concerns. This consultation response is the product of many such discussions.

“There is little doubt that the overall objective of government policy is in line with the region’s aspiration for commercial growth and green recovery. The proposed changes to the planning system will need considerably more detail before we can be confident they will help deliver those objectives but we support in principle changes which would make the planning system more dynamic, accountable and productive for the North East.