Pressures on housing and new infrastructure are at the forefront of discussions surrounding growth and development (see Landmark’s Supply and Demand blog). Planning and building new homes in the right places, close to jobs and supported by infrastructure such as schools, hospitals and sustainable transport is key for successful and sustainable development moving forward.

As the government devolves powers to cities and seeks to reform the planning system, the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) has been mapping planning permissions for housing in twelve English city regions to analyse the relationship between infrastructure and housing delivery. Working with Bilfinger GVA, the ‘Location of Development’ project is the largest study of its size.

Specifically focusing on the South West, the RTPI launched the latest report at the South West Infrastructure Conference on Friday 8 July. The document maps the location of development and planning permissions in three South West city-regions, Bournemouth, Bristol and Plymouth. The aim of this evidence is to map the spatial patterns and housing growth across cities and widen the debate about the location of development.

The South West has some of the fastest employment growth outside London and a pressing need for housing. Growth areas are already suffering from congestion and lack of infrastructure capacity, so monitoring development trends is crucial in these expanding localities. In Bristol, the delivery of new residential development is relatively high compared to its population size. The city saw an overall employment growth rate of 5.7% from 2011 to 2014 and 83% of mapped residential permissions were located within 10km of significant employment locations. However, the focus on infrastructure is key with only 16% of planning permissions within a 10 minute walk of a rail station.

What does this mean for planning?

The study is intended to add clarity to the debate about the scale and location of new homes. Ultimately the focus is on top level policy, with emphasis on the importance of functionally linking infrastructure and development across local authority boundaries as a means of delivering sustainable homes for communities as city regions respond to economic growth patterns.

For developers looking to future investment, the report also reviews strategic planning and infrastructure investment developments that are likely to influence decisions over the location of development.

For further details on the study, results and reports see