Today the minister for decentralisation announced that the minimum housing density of 30 dwellings per hectare is to be abandoned. The point of this rule, as I understand it was to improve the need for shared services such as public transport, water and drainage infrastructure and communications. This rule also aimed to make the case for local shops and a walkable distance to schools and other facilities. The mantra of localisation is being used to justify this, with the assumption that local authorities should have the wherewithal to set a local density requirement for their area.
It is highly likely that many local authorities will set an even higher density target, but if this is not enshrined in local policy then planning consultants will be able to overturn planning refusals on appeal.
The result of this policy change will be a greater variety in the types of housing that housebuilders will provide. Some sites will be appropriate for larger houses with double garages, and that is what will be provided. But is this sustainable?
Taking up larger areas of countryside for smaller numbers of homes seems to be counterproductive. Such homes will provide a lower demand for shared services and will therefore be dependent on cars in a way that denser developments would not.
I struggle to find sense behind this change in policy from a sustainability perspective, it is designed to encourage localism, but localism is not dependent on density, it is much more dependant on character, style, materials and the design of the project, than density.
Are we going to abandon Building Regulations too?
PS can someone add localism to the WordPress dictionary!