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Council Strongly Objects to Proposed Changes in National Planning Policy

  • Council objects to recent Government planning consultation on brownfield development
  • If adopted, national policies would automatically override the Council’s own local planning guidelines where arbitrary housing targets are not met

THE COUNCIL has responded to a Government planning consultation, objecting strongly to proposed changes in national policy which could threaten to override local planning policies and which could have an unacceptable impact on living standards for residents, and on the character of the town.

Reading Borough Council’s recent response to the Government’s ‘Strengthening Planning Policy for Brownfield Development’ consultation outlines its objection to the notion that national policies would automatically override the Council’s own local planning guidelines if arbitrary nationally-set housing targets are not met.

Reading is one of 20 of the largest urban areas in England which would be subject to much more stringent tests on housing delivery under the Government’s new proposals.  

The Council’s consultation response emphasises that Reading is already delivering the homes required according to local evidence of housing need, and it makes clear that the town does not have the space to accommodate the Government’s expected housing provision for Reading, which includes an arbitrary 35% increase in housing need.

As well as overcrowding and poor living conditions for residents, the character of the town would also be impacted with local planning policies, on both the mix of homes needed and tall buildings, being overridden.

As well as providing consultation feedback on behalf of the town, Reading Borough Council has also joined forces with nine other city councils across England that would be subject to the same national policy changes, in order to provide a joint response. The joint response presents concerns, on behalf of the urban authorities, that limited space in the major urban areas and particular complexities with development on urban sites - including past contamination, air quality and challenges in providing a high standard of living for new residents - mean the Government’s proposals are unlikely to be effective.


Micky Leng, Lead Councillor for Planning at Reading Council, said:

“In Reading, we are prepared, as we always have been, to pull our weight in helping to solve the housing crisis.  Our track record on delivery of new homes against assessed local needs is very strong, and the vast majority of this is on brownfield land.  Housing development at high density on brownfield sites has been going on in Reading for decades, particularly in the town centre.

 “However, these new planning policy proposals mean that Reading is one of a select few large urban areas that will now be expected to make up for failures in housing delivery across the rest of the country. The Government’s new proposed policy changes would make this even more pronounced, by threatening to bypass our adopted local policies if we even fall fractionally below the expected number of new homes, and including if this is due to matters completely out of the Council’s hands, such as the wider economic picture for example.

 “The Council fully acknowledges the need for new housing, and in particular affordable housing, and we fully support the principle of building new homes on previously developed land where public transport access is good.  But there is a much wider discussion to be had about how this can be unlocked by Government funding and how vital infrastructure can be provided alongside any new homes. The national consultation misses the opportunity to start that important conversation”.