BUDGET: Housing and planning round-up

Kirsty Butcher

At-a-glance summary of key points relating to planning and housing in the Budget statement:

On streamlining the planning system

  • Zonal and ‘red line’ planning approach, where local authorities use their Local Plans to signal their development strategy from the outset and make maximum use of permission in principle
  • A statutory three-month deadline for Secretary of State decisions on called-in applications and recovered appeals to prevent time-delays on decisions on infrastructure, housing and regeneration projects
  • Consultation on options for increasing transparency in the property market, including increasing the visibility of information relating to options to purchase or lease land
  • Greater freedoms and flexibilities for deployment of mobile infrastructure, including reducing planning restrictions for existing telecoms infrastructure and allowing taller new ground-based masts to be built

Unlocking more land for housing

  • Homes & Communities Agency in partnership with Network Rail and local authorities to provide land around stations for housing, commercial development and regeneration. The sites which will take part in the scheme will be set out shortly
  • Increase densities on brownfield land, following the consultation on ‘building up’ in London, providing similar powers through devolution deals
  • A further £2bn of the Local Growth Fund allocated through the Home Building Fund, which provides finance to developers to unlock large housing sites and bring forward the necessary infrastructure that large house building projects require

Garden towns and cities

  • Government-supported construction of garden towns and cities across the country, with the potential to deliver over 100,000 homes
  • New legislation making it easier for local authorities to work together to create new garden towns, as well as consult on reforms to make the Compulsory Purchase Order process clearer, fairer and quicker
  • Provision of technical and financial support to areas that want to establish garden villages and market towns of between 1,500 to 10,000 homes. The government will shortly announce what planning and financial flexibilities will be offered to local authorities that submit proposals for settlements that deliver a significant number of additional houses

Community housing

  • Government will provide £60m for community-led developments in rural and coastal communities, including through Community Land Trusts, where the impact of second homes is acute, using Stamp Duty Land Tax revenue raised from the higher rates for purchases of additional properties
  • South West will receive £20m of this funding, the rest of the allocation was not broken down

PRS Guarantee

  • The government will extend the Private Rented Sector Guarantee Scheme until December 2017

Gary Halman, managing partner at HOW Planning, said: “George Osborne is once again getting thoroughly involved in planning at both the strategic and process levels. Whilst he has taken on board some of the house builders key messages about driving more simplicity into the system, interestingly he has also responded to those that want more transparency, including around land transactions and land held under option, perhaps due to concerns that land banking is thwarting housing delivery whilst planning permissions are on an upward trend.”

Nicola Rigby, director for planning, development and regeneration at GVA, said: “There are some interesting announcements around planning: two in particular stick out to me. Firstly, the intended introduction of a zonal / red line planning approach, which moves us more towards a system where in principle development limits are established to de-risk sites for developers. Sounds good and places a lot of the blame for concerns with delays in the system with the Local Planning departments. But it may be underestimating the work that will be required to establish in principle development parameters across sites. Under this system the developer may not have to go through these early stages of work, but someone, the local planning departments presumably, will. As with the current approach, this will work where it can be achieved…

“Buried in the full Budget document is an interesting announcement on a pilot initiative to bring the Homes & Communities Agency, Network Rail and local authorities together in partnership to bring forward land around stations for housing, commercial development and regeneration. Arguably this should have been happening anyway, but all eyes will be on where the pilot initiative (or in time, initiatives, potentially) is identified and the scope that it has. Experience from Crossrail in London would suggest that this will have significant positive commercial impacts, including property value uplift, additional development unlocked, and ultimately greater fiscal return to the public purse – so it can only be a good thing.”

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