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British Property Federation Launches Manifesto

The British Property Federation (BPF) today launches its Employment Land Manifesto to support next steps for the Government’s planning system reforms.

The Government’s Planning for the Future White Paper made no meaningful reference to the need to plan effectively for employment land.

Planning for new housing delivery without considering the relationship between new homes and employment land is short-sighted.

New homes should be built together with creating new jobs and social infrastructure, and more investment into town centres to adapt to an increasing population and changing consumer behaviours. Equally, the Government must ensure enough warehouse space is built to sufficiently service new and growing communities.

The manifesto’s key proposals:

  • Introduce a presumption in favour of logistics development – the UK is currently experiencing accelerated demand for online shopping, growth in biotech and other high-tech manufacturing, as well as changes to supply chains from our new trading relationship with the EU and rest of the world. Demand for modern logistics property is outstripping supply, yet the Local Plan process is too slow to respond, needlessly slowing down high-growth sectors when their contribution to the economy and opportunities for new employment are vital to UK recovery.
  • Improve cross-boundary planning to deliver strategic employment sites – the BPF sees a role for Mayoral Combined Authorities and/or LEPS in delivering strategic employment site allocations, which cross one or more boundaries between different local authorities, through new spatial planning powers.
  • Reinforce logistics in Local Plans – the requirement set out in the Planning Practice Guidance for logistics to be assessed and planned for separately, from more traditional industrial uses, needs to be enforced more robustly.
  • Establish industrial and logistics-friendly design codes – the National Model Design Code and Building Better Building Beautiful agenda are fundamental aspects of residential development but must not prejudice important industrial and logistics development that play a fundamental and growing role in meeting societal needs.
  • Introduce an Employment Land Delivery Test – an Employment Land Delivery Test, similar to the Housing Delivery Test or Five-Year Housing Land requirement, would ensure that a commensurate amount of employment land is brought forward to counterbalance housing and that any employment land lost to other uses is delivered in the right locations.
  • Include a fourth ‘long-term growth’ zone in the Planning White Paper’s zonal approach – currently, the Government’s planning system reforms propose to zone all land as either ‘growth’, ‘renewal’ or ‘protection’. This approach will not work for large-scale regeneration sites, where the long-term delivery of ‘place’ requires continuing dialogue with communities. The BPF therefore suggests a sub-set of ‘growth’, called ‘long-term growth’.
  • Introduce Town Centre Investment Zones – these are designated areas within which a broad range of local stakeholders gain enhanced powers and tax incentives that support town centre adaption, on the condition that they together have put forward a clear, coherent local plan for high street renewal.

Melanie Leech, chief executive of the British Property Federation, said: The recommendations in this manifesto are about ensuring the Government’s planning system reforms work better to support communities, productivity and employment. The Government must not waste untapped potential for our planning system to unlock considerable economic and social value, supporting its own agenda to level up the UK’s regions and build back better. Planning reforms with a linear focus on housing will not be enough to create new, thriving and sustainable communities – the role of employment land in supporting new housing delivery must be better understood.”