Yesterday, the rather beleaguered Housing and Planning Bill received Royal Assent and will now become law, despite attempts by the House of Lords to impose a host of last minute amendments.
Redwood Consulting explores some of the elements of most interest to the property industry …
Starter Homes are new homes, sold to first-time buyers under the age of 40, at a discount of 20 percent. They form a central pillar of the legislation and differing views in Parliament about them nearly derailed it in its final days.
The new Act (as it becomes after receiving Royal Assent) places new duties on local authorities to promote the supply of Starter Homes. Local authorities will now have to include Starter Homes in Local Plans and can only grant planning permission for certain residential development if it includes a proportion of Starter Homes.
So important are Starter Homes to the legislation that a House of Lords amendment to give control of Starter Homes to local authorities prompted Housing and Planning Minister Brandon Lewis to say, “[the Lords] have chosen again to oppose one of our most important manifesto commitments,” as he warned peers to stop intervening.
Planning authorities will now have to issue public reports demonstrating how they fulfil their requirements to build Starter Homes. Those that fail to meet such requirements will be forced to do so by the Secretary of State.
A range of measures are now in place to increase house building, including bulking up Compulsory Purchase Orders, transferring more powers to the Secretary of State and promoting the more effective use of Neighbourhood Planning and Local Plans.
Elsewhere in the Act:
– Planning authorities will now need to maintain a brownfield land register and “permission in principle” will be granted to registered brownfield sites.
– All councils must have a Local Plan in place by 2017. The Act gives powers to the Secretary of State to intervene in the development plan process and approve Local Plans.
– The Secretary of State can now intervene in the decision-making process for designated Neighbourhood Areas. More powers are also given to the Secretary of State to intervene to push through Neighbourhood Plans.
An amendment in the Lords would have given a “neighbourhood right to appeal” where an approved housing application does not match the policies of a Neighbourhood Plan but this, along with other amendments, was rejected by the Commons in the final days of the Bill’s passage.
In London, boroughs will have to consult more thoroughly with the Mayor before planning permission is granted for certain development. With promises from Sadiq Khan to build 50,000 homes a year, we may see the Mayor of London become increasingly hands-on when it comes to residential applications.
Right to Buy
Housing Association tenants will now be able to buy their homes, while high-income tenants in social housing could see an increase in rent. Secure tenancies for life for social housing tenants will now be phased out and social housing regulation has been reduced.
The government has pledged to build 200,000 Starter Homes a year and if these are to be delivered the Housing and Planning Bill must prove effective. With bold commitments, implementation of this legislation should be important for the future of the government.
Reports suggest a new bill to be included in the Queen’s Speech next week will also focus on housing and planning, and Redwood Consulting will keep you updated.
The passing of the Act, the possibility of forthcoming legislation and the changing focus brought by a new Mayor in London, all within a few days, reinforces the importance of a forward-facing approach and anticipating the implications of operating in a fast-changing environment.
If you would like to discuss any of the above and the implications for your business, please get in touch with Redwood’s specialist public affairs team on 020 7828 5553 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.