Kit Malthouse, Housing Minister, stressed the importance of design if the public are to accept large-scale developments, during a visit to Bristol on 31st January. Mr Malthouse spent the day visiting and discussing several development sites, including the Bristol Temple Meads to Keynsham corridor, with regional mayor Tim Bowles and members of the West of England combined authority (WECA).
He said it was important that local planning authorities make it clear to developers what their Section 106 affordable housing requirements are in order to gain planning permission. Mr Malthouse told BristolLive: “If this is done then the negotiation and gamble that takes place when you are confronting a development is removed and more certainty goes into the system. If a local council or combined authority is clear about its plan up front then a developer is able to factor the requirements into the land value.”
He also emphasised the importance of design: “If you are going to hit the ambitious housing targets in this region then acceptability is going to have to be high amongst the population and that can be dealt with by making the design right. If you live in Bath or Bristol people value and treasure the vernacular – stone, look, height, scale – you have to get that right.”
Mr Malthouse also said infrastructure needs to be in place before the houses are built: “Historically this country has not been very good at putting in infrastructure first, we have always done it as an afterthought when things have become critical and the roads and the rail have fallen over. But pretty much for the first time we now have significant dedicated funding for infrastructure.”
A £5.5billion Housing Infrastructure Fund (HIF) is specifically targeted on infrastructure. WECA has put in a bid for £250million from the fund to improve transport links and unlock sites for new homes between Bristol Temple Meads and Keynsham.