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What do you consider to be the main challenges facing the British planning system over the next 10 years and what are the options for dealing with them?

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Introduction

What do you consider to be the main challenges facing the British planning system over the next 10 years and what are the options for dealing with them? Challenges facing the British Planning System There are many challenges facing the British Planning System over the next 10 years, the most pressing of these being the need for housing to cater for the increasing trend for single dwelling occupancy. It is estimated that in the South-East of the UK alone some 4 million additional homes are required by 2021. The current demand for housing outstrips supply. Unless the rate of house building picks up there will be a shortfall of 453,000 homes within ten years (www.newsbbc.co.uk/housing). Shortages will be most acute in London and the south-east of England. To understand why this problem has become so acute, it is necessary to look at the social changes that have taken place in recent years. People in the UK are increasingly choosing to live on their own; this has created a surge in the demand for housing which has pushed up house prices dramatically, thus making it harder for first time buyers to purchase homes. ...read more.

Middle

In Britain new homes are built on an average of 25 homes per hectare - the size of two park-sized football pitches. This level of density is far too low to precipitate the construction of the required number of homes in the South-East. The problem of low housing density in the UK is exemplified by looking at other countries and their approach to fulfilling housing deficits. Typical housing densities are 300 homes per hectare in Paris, 500 homes per hectare in Barcelona and 1,700 in the Kowloon district in Hong Kong (www.society.guardian.co.uk/urbandesign/story). A controversial solution to the housing shortage in the South-East is the construction of 80,000 homes in the countryside surrounding the four growth areas. The four growth areas outlined are East London, Milton Keynes, Ashford in Kent and Stansted in Essex. The bulk of the new homes will be built in the Thames gateway, a 40-mile strip to the east of London, described as "Europe's largest brownfield site". Within this proposal is a groundbreaking initiative designed at regaining potentially "lost housing". Councils in the south-east will also get powers to compulsorily let up to 70,000 empty homes to help ease the shortage of homes. ...read more.

Conclusion

Housing that is currently being constructed to meet housing stock requirements has been identified as being too low density. Far too much land is being used by residential developments; higher density housing would result in more dwellings and would therefore help to meet the required number of dwellings. In the short term housing stocks need to be managed and brought under control, empty homes need to be reclaimed, and housing shortages need to be addressed at a local level as well as a national level to ensure that residential developments suit the area in which they are constructed and prove to be places where people actually want to live. In the long term viable alternatives to building on Greenfield land need to be sought. Higher density housing, mixed use and infilling would help to contain urban sprawl which is an almost inevitable outcome of urban expansion fuelled by the demand for homes. Adequate homes need to be built to meet the demand which currently stands at an extra 200,000 homes per year. As the social trends which are creating the surge in demand for housing cannot easily be changed, the only viable option is to accommodate for this change and to provide adequate housing without compromising build quality or harming the vast rolling countryside for which Britain is renowned. ...read more.

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