Housing White Paper Summary. February 2017

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1 Housing White Paper Summary February 2017

2 On Tuesday 7 February, the government published the Housing White Paper, aimed at solving the housing crises in England through increasing the supply of homes and providing homes for all. The government proposes measures to enable the development of housing in the right places, accelerate the delivery of housing, and to diversify the housing market. The White Paper does not create policy in itself, but it sets out the government s intentions and how they plan to implement them through policy and legislation.

3 Planning for Homes in the Right Places The government is placing emphasis on the need for every community to have in place an up-to-date, sufficiently ambitious plan. Spatial development strategies produced by new combined authorities or elected Mayors will be able to allocate strategic sites for development, which is to be secured through the Neighbourhood Planning Bill, and amendments to the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF). Plans are being reviewed in whole or in part at least every 5 years, and plans will need to be updated at any point if it is demonstrated that the updated housing need means that targets are no longer justified. Neighbouring Local authorities will be expected to prepare a Statement of Common Ground, setting out how they will work together to meet housing requirements and other issues that cut across authority boundaries. The government has reiterated the importance of preserving the green belt. Furthermore, a proposal is included to require development contributions where sites are developed in the green belt in order to enhance the quality of other green belt locations. It is proposed that the NPPF be amended to indicate that great weight should be attached to the value of using suitable brownfield land within settlements for homes, and to require a clear strategy for maximising the use of suitable land. Development plans and proposals should: Make efficient use of land and avoid building homes at low densities, where there is a shortage of housing land; Address scope for higher-density housing in urban locations; and Take a flexible approach to policy and guidance that could inhibit these objectives. It is qualified that the requirement to meet housing targets will be balanced against the adverse effects of doing so. The government propose to amend the wording of the presumption in favour of sustainable development in the NPPF to allow for consideration of other national policies and considerations which could justify the restriction of development. POTENTIAL IMPLICATIONS: Further pressure on local authorities to produce and maintain up to date development plans. More opportunities to promote sites for development through development plans, although it may be more difficult to gain planning permission at sites which are not allocated for development. Opportunity to promote sites for a higher density of residential development within urban areas. Potential to re-visit housing sites promoted for development in emerging plans, to increase the amount of residential development. Increased involvement of regional bodies such as combined authorities and LEPs in plan making Proposed new framework for plan making MANDATORY Policies to address key strategic policies (including strategic sites) Local Plan (for individual authorities or prepared jointly) or Spatial Development Strategy (where this power is conferred on a combined authority or mayor) OPTIONAL More focused policies for particular places or issues Neighbourhood plans More focused development plan documents (e.g. action area plans for areas of significant change)

4 Building Homes Faster The government will consult on options for introducing a standardised approach to assessing housing requirements at the earliest opportunity this year. The outcomes from this consultation will subsequently be reflected in amendments to the NPPF, and the new methodology for calculating objectively assessed need will apply by April The NPPF is to be amended to allow local authorities to agree their land supply on an annual basis, which would then be fixed for the one-year period. A new housing delivery test is included for local authorities and wider interests. The new test will highlight whether the number of homes being built is below target (applying delivery thresholds), provide a mechanism for establishing the reasons, and trigger responses to ensure that further land comes forward (where delivery is below the threshold). The following approach is proposed: Date (from) Nov 2017 Delivery threshold (% of local authority s annual housing requirement) Below 95% Below 85% Nov 2018 Below 25% Nov 2019 Below 45% Nov 2020 Below 65% Implication for local authority Publish an action plan setting out the reasons and actions. Plan for a 20% buffer on their five-year land supply. Presumption in favour of sustainable development applies. Measures are to be put in place to ensure that Neighbourhood Plans meet their fair share of housing needs. It is proposed that the protection of Neighbourhood Plans will not apply where housing delivery against the local authority s annual housing requirement falls below the thresholds listed in the table above, from To support delivery, the government will target a 2.3bn Housing Infrastructure Fund to the areas of greatest housing need, opening the fund to bids during 2017 with money available over the next four years. The proposals retain the commitment to allow the Secretary of State to prohibit conditions, and that precommencement conditions will only be used with the agreement of the applicant, which is to be implemented through the Neighbourhood Planning Bill. Proposals are included to roll out a strategic approach to habitat management of protected species, with licensing considered at plan level. Proposals have been published relating to the reform of CIL and developer contributions (in a separate report on 7 February), and it is indicated that consultation will be carried out on standardised open book Section 106 Agreements.

5 Building Homes Faster The government propose to strengthen the scrutiny and focus on the delivery of sites, including through: Requiring more information to be published about the timing and pace of delivery of new housing A further consultation on measures to simplify the completion notice process Amending the NPPF to encourage local authorities to consider how realistic it is that a site will be developed, when considering planning applications for housing development on sites where previous permissions have not been implemented Potentially taking an applicant s track record of delivery into account when considering planning applications for housing development; Amending the NPPF to encourage timescales for commencement of development to be amended from three years to two years, unless a shorter timescale could hinder the viability or deliverability of a scheme. POTENTIAL IMPLICATIONS: Additional opportunities to promote sites for housing where a local authority fails the housing delivery test. Reduced scope for objections to new housing allocations as a result of the standard methodology for calculating housing need, which may be a big positive for site promoters and local authorities seeking to adopt local plans. An increase in the number of sites allocated for housing as a result of the housing delivery test. A strategic approach to habitat management of protected species could be highly beneficial to the timescales and costs associated with bringing certain sites forward for development The proposals include measures to assist councils in bringing forward development, including: Addressing barriers to setting up Local Development Corporations to deliver new towns and garden cities Providing a 45m Land Release Fund to assist local authorities with public land release Support to councils seeking to develop on their own land through the Accelerated Construction Programme Encouraging more active use of compulsory purchase powers to promote development on stalled sites for housing. Councils may also be able to increase planning application fees to boost their resources. Fees may also be charged for appealing planning decisions.

6 Diversifying the Market Emphasis is placed on delivering a wide range of housing types, and indicates that the government intend to require local authorities to deliver starter homes as part of a mixed package of affordable housing, responding the local circumstances. There is also a significant focus on boosting build to rent affordable housing. The general duty of councils to promote the supply of starter homes will be implemented, albeit as part of a wider expectation that housing sites deliver a minimum of 10% affordable home ownership units. Local areas should work with developers to agree an appropriate level of starter homes delivery, alongside other affordable home ownership and rented tenures. The government proposes to amend the NPPF to allow more brownfield land to be released for developments with a higher proportion of starter homes by: Favouring starter home-led development on employment land that has been vacant, unused or unviable for a period of five years, and is not a strategic employment site Extending the starter home exemption site policy to include other forms of underused brownfield land, such as leisure centres and retail uses Allowing development on brownfield land in the green belt where it contributes to the delivery of starter homes and does not cause substantial harm to the openness of the green belt. The government will clarify that starter homes can be acceptable on rural exception sites, and that the 1.2bn Starter Home Land Fund will be invested to help to bring forward development on brownfield sites to support these developments. POTENTIAL IMPLICATIONS: Opportunity to pursue housing development involving starter homes on a wider range of sites, including unviable employment sites. Need for local authorities to focus on viable and deliverable employment sites in plan making. Opportunity to pursue residential development on unviable and unused employment sites. Opportunity to boost the case for new employment sites through the identification of unviable sites which can be redeveloped for housing.

7 Contact: Ian Anderson Partner, Planning UK T: E: William Steel Consultant, Planning UK T: E:

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