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The Housing White Paper: Fixing our Broken Housing Market – A Brief Analysis

10th March, 2017

Last month, Sajid Javid MP, (Secretary of State for Communities & Local Government) introduced the Housing White Paper, to address structural failings in the UK’s housing market.  Whilst admitting that there is no ‘silver bullet’ that can fix the nation’s housing crisis, there was recognition that action had to be taken on many fronts – not least in the planning system itself.

The Way Forward

The key recommendations are:

1) scrapping previous plans to introduce a statutory requirement for ‘Starter Homes’ (a form of affordable housing, introduced only last year in the Housing & Planning Act 2016, for first time buyers between the ages of 23 and 40, to be sold at no more than 80% of the open market value).

2) proposed shake up of the Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL).  It is anticipated that CIL will be replaced with a ‘hybrid’ system of a single tariff for all developments, relating to section 106 agreements (i.e. planning obligations under s.106 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 which make a development proposal acceptable in planning terms, that would not otherwise be acceptable) for larger developments.

3) Increased pressure on local planning authorities to ensure delivery of housing.  If delivery of housing falls below 85% of the total housing requirements in the local area, local authorities would be expected to plan for a 20% buffer on their 5 year housing land supply.  In addition, a carrot was dangled in front of local authorities in the form of a 20% uplift on planning fees for those councils who are delivering on their housing targets.

4) simplifying the Local Plan process to speed up plan making, introducing a standardised approach to assessing housing requirements and establishing new powers of intervention to ensure that every Local Planning Authority has an up-to-date plan in place.

5) encouraging the implementation of planning permissions previously granted.  This may include more widespread use of compulsory purchase powers to promote development on stalled sites for housing, greater transparency around land ownership, tackling unnecessary planning conditions and making the planning system more open and accessible.

6) consultation on new agricultural to residential permitted development (i.e. land with an agricultural use could be used for residential use without the need for planning permission).

7) the intention to change planning policy so as to make it easier for developers to offer affordable private rented homes, instead of other forms of affordable housing – thereby increasing the availability of accommodation to rent.

8) proposals to support the delivery of additional homes by making it easier for developers to add upward extensions to buildings.

Industry’s Response

As expected, reaction to the White Paper was mixed.  The Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) and the Campaign for the Protection of Rural England (CPRE) broadly welcomed the measures, whilst the Home Owners Alliance was sceptical as to how the proposals would enable the government to meet its target of 1 million new homes by 2020.

In conclusion

It is worth reiterating that a white paper is merely a consultation document and we will have to wait until the Autumn Budget for the Government to formally respond to the paper.

For more information on planning and development, please contact David Delaney or James Thomas.

David Delaney

Planning Law Consultant
Email: [email protected]
Tel: 01244 405538

 Other articles published by David Delaney include:
  • Housing and Planning Act 2016 – What next for Planning in England? Published in October 2016. Article author – David Delaney. To read this article in full please click here.
  • Housing and Planning Act 2016 – Compulsory Purchase Reforms Published in November 2016. Article author – David Delaney. If you would like to read this please click here
  • Neighbourhood Plans become more local. Published in November 2016. If you would like to read this article in full please click here
  • Self-build and Custom Housebuilding Act 2015. Published in March 2017. Article author – David Delaney. If you would like to read this article in full please click here



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