The governments Housing white paper released in February sets out a number of key issues with an aim to fix what the government calls the ‘broken housing market’. Focus has been placed on local authorities to firstly speed up developments; once planning permission has been granted, developers are expected to begin construction imminently or could face local authorities CPO’s to seize their land. And secondly,pin point local authorities that are not delivering, and introduce presumption in favour of planning permission in those areas.
There is a push to help SME’s and small developers by encouraging regeneration of urban areas. The criteria for development will show an emphasis on high density development and increased building on brownfield and small sites.
Looking at Construction and proposed development; the government want to see a rise in modular construction with financial support from the Home Building Fund (administered by the HCA Homes and Communities Agency). The government are also encouragingdevelopers to embark on BTR (Build-to-Rent) schemes. These would require developers to deliver at least 20% of the development at 20% discount on market levels, yet would enable developer’s greater planning certainty.
Some policies saw a market U-Turn, such as the prior ‘starter homes policy’ which set out that starter homes(available at 20% discount to first-time buyers) would have to account for 20% of new developments. The new white paper reads that 10% of all developments will have to consist of ‘affordable home ownership’ units.Furthermore the target of 200,000 new starter homes by 2020 (a manifesto pledge) has been replaced by a target of 200,000 ‘new home owners’ by that date.
They announced a continued commitment to protect the greenbelt, and although admitted that there is no clear guidelines as to what constitutes ‘exceptional circumstances’ they will introduce a new policy allowing local authorities power to only amend greenbelt when they have explored ‘all other reasonable options’. Any loss to the greenbelt must be offset by higher contributions by the developer or improvements to existing greenbelt land.
Local authorities will have the option to increase planning fees by 20% if they invest the extra money into their planning departments. Planning fees for appeals will also be up for debate, however any increase of these fees would be refundable to the developer should the appeal be successful.