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A Convergence of Interests

Britain must build more houses. Last year, only 136,000 homes were completed in England. But 250,000 new homes a year are required if the Government is to meet its targets of 1 million new homes by 2020.

In particular Sadiq Khan, the new Mayor of London, is in a unique position right at the start of his term to deliver the new homes the Capital desperately needs. At least 130,000 new homes could be built on surplus public sector land alone.

In A Convergence of Interests, published on Friday 20 May, Keith Boyfield and Daniel Greenberg argue that all the pre-conditions are in place to allow a rapid increase in house building:

  • Nimbyism’ appears to be in fast decline as more and more people appreciate the need for more housing.
  • Institutional capital is increasingly interested in investing in housing developments and infrastructure.
  • Many local authorities are considering ambitious new developments; and those which are not will be encouraged to do so through the Government’s requirement to identify a target figure for new homes in their Local Plans.

The authors urge the Government to exploit the opportunity with a simple and innovative policy approach: Pink Zones

Dubbed pink because they provide a diluted regulatory regime compared with the red tape that characterises the current paralysed planning system, Pink Zones would:

  • provide a streamlined  planning system for the construction of vibrant, attractive and prosperous new residential developments underpinned by social and physical infrastructure;
  • work from the bottom up – not the top down – bringing together local residents, developers and councils to achieve consensus over new development and accelerate the development process;
  • increase competition, bypass many current planning regulations and improve design standards.

Pink Zones have already been successfully implemented in the US – in cities such as Phoenix, Arizona. 

The authors also note that it should be accepted that some areas currently classified as greenbelt will need to be re-designated.  However, if this is handled with sensitivity for local concerns, this should not be a problem – not least as the amount of land designated as greenbelt has more than doubled since 1979; some of it  hardly ‘green’.

Keith Boyfield explains:

In the past a great number of housing developments were built in the UK by private entities – in some cases of a philanthropic nature, such as Bournville. Pink Zones could trigger institutional funding for investment in new housing – institutions such as life insurance companies, pension funds, sovereign wealth funds and charitable foundations.

Ultimately Pink Zones would create more and better homes for people throughout the country and tackle the poverty of aspiration which typifies much residential construction in this country.  Our Pink Planning proposals create a mechanism whereby a convergence of interests can be taken forward. By encouraging Special Purpose Vehicles to emerge, Pink Planning, with its streamlined planning framework and a single consenting regime, can bring together all the relevant parties to create new developments that are finely tuned to the needs of individual communities.

Click here to read the full report.

The CPS Pink Planning campaign has received significant interest from the industry. The following leading public figures have pledged their support:

Steve Norris

Chairman of BNP Paribas Real Estate, Chairman of Soho Estates former London Mayoral candidate.

“I warmly welcome this contribution to a massive issue which affects the lives of millions of people all over the country.  Making our planning system more predictable, less time consuming and more affordable should be a key priority for politicians at every level.  Pink Planning offers a way forward.  It is now for others to follow.”

Prof Paul Cheshire

Emeritus Professor of Economic Geography at the London School of Economics.

“[The] proposal for introducing ‘Pink Planning Zones’ is ingenious and it is well worth giving it serious consideration as one instrument for breaking through the stasis we have in house construction.

It has the merit of working with the grain and not needing major legislative changes to make it work - so it could be effective.”

Prof Robert Adam

Leading Architect and writer on urbanism, Director of ADAM Architecture.

“I've read the proposal and think it excellent. I am a persistent advocate of reform of the increasingly complex and obstructive planning system and the Pink Planning proposal is a positive step in the right direction.”

Nick Hewer

TV presenter and documentary maker, for example, BBC One’s The Town That Never Retired; well known for his role as Lord Sugar's adviser on The Apprentice.

Sir Brian Pomeroy CBE,

former Chairman of the Board of Centrepoint and Homeless Link, previously Board Member of the Financial Conduct Authority and many other public bodies; former Senior Partner of Deloitte Consulting.

Peter Freeman

Co-Founder and Chairman of Argent Group Plc; the developers of King’s Cross, London, Chairman of the Investment Property Forum, member of the Bank of England Property Forum.

“I think this study makes a valuable contribution to the debate about how to accelerate house building.”

Rt Hon Peter Lilley MP
former Cabinet Minister.

Lord Salisbury
former Cabinet Minister and leader of the House of Lords, Chancellor of the University of Hertfordshire.

“Everyone agrees that we need more housing, particularly in the South and South East of England. It is essential that, when we build new communities, they should be places where people want to live and work.

At last, people from all over the world are beginning to debate the ways in which this objective can be achieved and this report makes an important contribution to the debate."

Michael Mainelli
City of London Alderman, Chairman of Z/Yen Group of Companies, Emeritus Gresham Professor of Commerce at Gresham College in London and founder of the Long Finance initiative, Visiting Professor at the London School of Economics.

“Delighted to support you”

Lord Flight

Director of Metrobank plc., former Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury.

“I like the idea of Pink Zones with much reduced red tap planning hurdles. Also […] they might provide a justification for reducing planning controls everywhere.”

John Fingleton
former Senior Adviser to both the Cabinet Office and HM Treasury, Chief Executive of the Office of Fair Trading from 2005 to 2012.

"Inefficiency in the planning system is a serious obstacle to economic growth and prosperity in Britain. This proposal would represent a practical step forward and is very worthy of support."

Andrés Duany
Leading Architect, Urban Planner, and a founder of the Congress for the New Urbanism.

“The problem with the British explosion of planning red tape addressed by this paper is not a sideshow; it already incapacitates those who are competing in a ruthless, globalized, twenty first century. A simpler, bottom up approach as outlined here which encourages competition is the only way forward.”

Hank Dittmar
World-leading Urbanist, Government Adviser and Planning Consultant, former Chief Executive of The Prince's Foundation for Building Community.

“Every time government tries planning reform things just get more complex. At last someone has proposed an end run around the complexity toward what we all want: growth that is both affordable and creates quality places. The pink zone assembles existing tools in a way that cuts through the fog.”

Simon Walker
Director General of the Institute of Directors.

“The authors of Pink Planning clearly outline how pressing the need for simplification of the overly complex and burdensome regulatory environment is, and proscribe the creation of ‘Pink Zones’, areas where regulation is simplified and the business climate more favourable to development firms and local councils.”

Jon Moulton
Founder Better Capital LLP, a prominent private equity investor. Non-Executive Chairman of FinnCap, the stockbroker and a Member of the Advisory Board for the £3.1bn UK Regional Growth Fund.

Matthew Colledge
former Leader of Trafford Metropolitan Borough Council.

“Just as the combination of private capital and civic leadership defined and created our great cities in the 19th century, so Pink Planning today refreshes those principles and provides a roadmap to simplify and stimulate our approach to housing and development across the country. As our need for accommodation becomes ever more acute so this report provides the template to get Britain building again.”

Sir Ian Byatt
British economist, former Director General of Water Services in England and Wales and Deputy Chief Economic Adviser to the Treasury.

“I have been strongly in favour of better supply side policies for housing for the last thirty or so years, and have been increasingly disheartened by Government policies.

So I am greatly encouraged by [Pink Zones] as a step in the right direction. And I agree that this is a time for doing this.”

Media Coverage

Keith Boyfield and Daniel Greenberg - Friday 20th May 2016

Keith Boyfield is a leading economist and writer who specialises in marketing, competition and regulatory policy. He runs a City consultancy advising multi national companies, non profit organisations and media groups.  He has also served as a consultant to the European Commission.