Housing Whitepaper - 12 Key Points - DAC Beachcroft

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Housing Whitepaper - 12 Key Points

Published On: 10 February 2017

What was expected to be a genuine shake-up of the planning system, has turned out be something far less radical and has left many in the industry rather underwhelmed. One can't help but feel that the delay over its publication was time spent watering-down what could otherwise have been far more radical changes.

It certainly isn't the all-out assault on the volume house-builders many had expected given the rhetoric around 'land-banking' – share prices have already breathed a sigh of relief. That said, the White Paper is certainly wide-reaching and praise-worthy for its attempts to identify what is broken within the planning system and the housing market and what can be done to take on, if not fix, the problems.

Significant further consultation on amendments to the National Planning Policy Framework and new legislation will be required before most of the proposals will gain any real traction in the market.

We see the following as the key points to take away from the White Paper:

  1. No Starter Homes Requirement – a far less bold approach to the policy advocated in the Government's manifesto. The 20% market discount model for first-time buyers will still be a new form of s106 affordable housing, but there are no immediate proposals to require a fixed percentage of Starter Homes on new housing sites. The proportion of any Starter Homes will be subject to negotiation against the local authority's housing policies. Starter Homes will only be available to those with household incomes of less than £80,000, or £90,000 in London, and there will now be a 15 year restriction on the owner's ability to re-sell for full market value.
  2. Support for Build to Rent as private affordable housing – consultation will take place on amending national policy to clarify that private rented housing at a 20% discount on market levels should qualify as affordable housing, with a particular emphasis on the built to rent model.
  3. Standardising method for assessing Local Plan housing supply – the Government will consult on a standard approach to assessing need to help authorities prepare their 5 year housing supply requirements.
  4. Housing Delivery Test for Local Planning Authorities – the Government will impose a performance test to ensure local authorities are delivering against their annual 5 year housing land supply requirements, failing which they will be subject to an additional 20% buffer on land supply and thereafter be subject to the presumption in favour of permission. From November 2018, delivery must be at least 25% of assessed need, rising to 45% in 2019 and 65% in 2020.
  5. No Green Belt reform – the White Paper reiterates that development on the Green Belt should only be in 'exceptional circumstances' and authorities will also have to demonstrate that they have exhausted 'all other reasonable options' before releasing it for housing. In those exceptional cases developers may also be required to make increased contributions to off-set the impact of their scheme.
  6. A review of CIL and Section 106 – the Government has post-poned its review of the relationship between CIL and planning obligations until the Autumn Statement. A return to Section 106 with a much simplified version of the current levy had been expected, but the complexities around the current legislation and its impact on infrastructure delivery need very careful consideration.
  7. Increased Planning Fees – local authorities will be permitted to raise application fees by 20% from July this year where they commit to reinvestment in their own planning departments.
  8. Local authority intervention – the White Paper encourages local authorities to consider greater use of CPO powers to take-over stalled sites from developers.  
  9. Density Drive – national policy will be amended to support higher-density schemes, particularly in areas well served by transport. A more flexible approach to space standards should also be adopted by local authorities.
  10. Brownfield land and Small sites – 'Great weight' will be attached to housing applications on brownfield sites. Local authorities will be required to maintain registers of brownfield land to feed that supply. Smaller undeveloped sites within existing settlements will also receive greater policy support.
  11. Planning Conditions – the forthcoming Neighbourhood Planning Act will crack down on the type and number of conditions to be imposed, including pre-commencement conditions, and there are proposals to stream-line the deemed discharge procedure.
  12. Modern Methods of Construction – the Government will examine whether more off-site construction could play a part in speeding up delivery. The HCA (to become 'Homes England') will administer a Home Building Fund to support more modular construction and to bring forward its land for home-building factories'.

To download the full list of key points click here. If you have any queries please get in touch with Christopher Stanwell or Andrew Morgan. 

 

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