More houses–but not on the green belt
LAST week, the Government announced plans to fix England’s ‘broken’ housing market and build new affordable homes. Some 250,000 new homes are needed every year, says Secretary for Communities and Local Government Sajid Javid.
The Government wants local authorities to develop ‘realistic’ plans and its Housing White Paper, released last week, prioritises brownfield sites, surplus public land and estates ripe for regeneration as opportunities for housebuilding. Where land is short, councils and developers should build higher.
Mr Javid reassured sceptics that the new approach to housing ‘will not entail recklessly ripping up our countryside’. Indeed, protections for the green belt remain in place (Leader, February 8). Nor will higher-density housing mean a proliferation of unsightly tower blocks, because the White Paper gives locals a greater say over the design of new developments.
The Government also intends to speed up the house-building process, introduce a Council Tax premium of up to 50% on empty homes, make renting fairer and diversify the construction industry.
The plans have been met with a mixed response. The CLA hails the paper as ‘a step forward’ for rural housing, although it has concerns about a hike in planning fees. Both the CPRE and the National Trust commend the focus on brownfield development and helping developers to build homes faster.
‘The Government’s assurance that it will not weaken green-belt protection is very welcome,’ says the CPRE’S Paul Miner.
However, Mr Miner continues: ‘We must be careful that proposed changes to local planning do not put more pressure on our green belt.’
On the other hand, some experts, such as Naomi Heaton of London Central Portfolio, feel the paper offers no radical solution. Nick Leeming of Jackson-stops & Staff laments that it doesn’t address Stamp Duty, which he perceives as a significant stumbling block in today’s market.
Savills’ Lucian Cook thinks that the key question is whether the new strategy will be achievable. ‘I see two areas of tension. The first is can [the Government] deliver on housing when they’ve strictly ring-fenced the green belt? The second is do the local authorities have sufficient manpower to do all this?’ Carla Passino
AS PART of its bicentenary celebrations, south London’s Dulwich Picture Gallery is to have its own pavilion, set to be a fixture of the summer season.
When it opened in 1817, Dulwich Picture Gallery (020–8693 5254; www.dulwichpicturegallery.org.uk), designed by Sir John Soane, was the country’s first purpose-built public art gallery. Now, his elegant building is to be joined, temporarily, by a mirrored pavilion with a cantilevered mesh roof. Opening in June, during the London Festival of Architecture, the Dulwich Pavilion will stage screenings, dance performances and workshops, with a cocktail bar.
The design, by architecture practice IF_DO, beat that of 75; judges included outgoing director, Ian Dejardin.
‘With its chain mail dangling down from the roof, the canopy has a sort of watercolour effect and the whole idea of mirrors is perfectly Soanian,’ says Mr Dejardin. Soane, he believes, would have approved.
Green-belt land has been protected in the new Housing White Paper, but experts warn that the new plans may be tough to deliver
The new Dulwich pavilion was designed by British architecture firm IF_DO