HC Deb 23 March 1999 vol 328 cc160-2W
Dr. Whitehead

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions when his Department will publish new planning policy guidelines on housing; and if he will make a statement. [78607]

Mr. Caborn

We have today published for public consultation a new version of Planning Policy Guidance note 3: Housing (PPG3). This is another major step in delivering our commitment to revitalise our towns and cities and to protect our countryside from unnecessary development. Our aim is to achieve nothing less than an urban renaissance. Copies of the new PPG3 have been placed in the Library and are available in the Vote Office.

The guidance emphasises the importance of making the best use of previously developed urban land and existing buildings in order to achieve our 60 per cent. land recycling target. This will minimise the use of green-field sites, encourage urban regeneration and help create more sustainable patterns of development. Local planning authorities are also advised to provide a greater choice of housing to meet the nation's changing housing needs, and to promote mixed development.

We propose to introduce a sequential approach to the choice of sites. Local planning authorities will be required to consider using previously developed land and buildings before releasing green-field sites for development.

Local planning authorities are also required to consider the capacity of the urban area to accommodate additional development. The guidance proposes the use of higher densities, reduced car parking and the release for housing of excess land held for other types of development. The Government are also looking for an improved quality of development and are therefore looking for improved urban design, better layouts and wider choice of sizes and types of housing. They advise developers and local authorities to place the needs of people before cars in designing the layout of residential developments. Creating a more attractive residential environment must be a central aim for new development.

The Government recognise that not all additional housing development can be accommodated on previously developed sites. The next most sustainable option is to develop urban extensions, making use of existing infrastructure and public transport links.

The new draft PPG3 represents a major departure in content and style from the previous planning guidance and is an essential toolkit for planning for housing in the new Millennium.