Yesterday NUS attended a meeting at the Department for Communities and Local Govt (CLG) to discuss the department's proposed changes to planning legislation which had been announced by the previous government in March 2010.
You can read CLG's proposed changes, the consultation questions, and their preferred path of action here. The Government has recognised - as a result of campaigning by NUS and other organisations - that the current legislation would throw up serious issues for many people who currently rely on rented housing. As a consequence they are eager to lay new legislation before Parliament in October 2010. This legislation is for England specifically, though this development may be of interest to those of you in other parts of the UK.
To be able to incorporate NUS' opinions into their deliberations, they have asked for a written response by Friday 9th July - that's this Friday. In summary NUS welcomes the partial rolling back announced by the government, but feels that measures need to be putin place to prevent local authorities from planning people who live in HMOs out of communities and to ensure that the provision of HMO type housing is protected. If you would like to contribute to this consultation, please contact us.
In summary, these proposals are a positive step forward - they take away the blanket requirement for planning permission which currently exists, and requires a local authority to pay compensation to landlords they refuse planning permission to, if they introduce these changes before October 2011. This means that local authorities will have to consciously opt to plan, consult and budget for an introduction of such changes.
However we will continue to oppose the use of planning legislation to plan students out of the communities we live, work and contribute to. Whilst NUS recognises the importance of effective planning to ensure sustainable communities and a decent housing stock, it remains a concern that these powers may still be used to prevent students from living in local communities. Restricting this vital supply of housing could see increases in rents and housing demand exceeding supply without actually tackling the management issues that can exist in rented housing.