The Virtuous Circle of Loveliness
Friday 2nd December 2016
Planning developer contributions are sought from most developments with the aim of facilitating the delivery and mitigating the impacts of the development. Communities resist development as it often comes without the necessary infrastructure and has a negative impact on their individual lives. We need to make sure that in delivering much-needed housing we are not just delivering the number of 'boxes' on the ground but delivering places that people want to live in - creating communities. Developers, landowners and LPAs need to appreciate 'the virtuous circle of loveliness'.
Much time and resource is expended by both the development industry and local planning authorities (LPAs) arguing about how much - in CIL examinations and as part of the planning application s106 obligation - the developer or the land owners must contribute towards the infrastructure to support development. Many councils also decide not to introduce a CIL as they seen as negative - putting off development and investment.
In my view, infrastructure contributions and the provision of infrastructure is a positive thing - investing in the infrastructure and creating a place will improve the quality of the place and therefore the value. As viability is a significant element of planning, by increasing the value it enables a greater amount to be collected from new development to be invested into infrastructure and place making which will further increase the value and so on. There is no doubt that developments with great connectivity, facilities, and a sense of place attract people -attract skilled workers, managers and investors. Therefore, if a development provides the place which attracts people, it will attract employment and other investment - it will create or revitalise a community and future development will be based on higher values. Hence the 'virtuous circle of loveliness'.
Investment in a place, by whatever means (e.g. developer contributions, investing council tax, LEP funding, central government funding, etc), that is focused on creating a quality place with character, green space, that is diverse, resilient and well connected, will increase values. That investment and rise in values will also be built upon and increase in future phases of development and new developments. This is particularly true for large scale development. There are many examples where developers (or land owners) that are in it for the long haul have delivered high quality -high value developments. It is now a case of trying to broaden that experience to have housebuilders and others, including public landowners, appreciate that it can deliver value for them as well.
I can only hope that a greater appreciation of the 'virtuous circle of loveliness', the benefit of investing in infrastructure; greater collaborative working throughout the industry; and pride in the places we create result in a step change in the quantity and quality of growth. I originally referred to the 'virtuous circle of loveliness' as part of the CIL Review Panel discussions - and they laughed- was it my enthusiasm or was it the name? -
Further reading and inspiration can be found at The Town and Country Planning Association's(TCPA) New Communities Group and work on the 'garden cities' (which also applies to regeneration, urban extensions, villages and towns). (https://www.tcpa.org.uk/Pages/Category/garden-cities) In addition, Savills have released a research paper on the value of placemaking. http://pdf.euro.savills.co.uk/uk/residential---other/spotlight-the-value-of-placemaking-2016.pdf)