Catesby’s in-house Planning Manager, Dawn Adams highlights the key take home messages, from planning in the news from the last few weeks:

Authorities without Local Plans Named and Shamed

It has been an exciting couple of weeks with planning in the headlines. Last week Secretary of Speech, Sajid Javid’s speech on the housing crisis which criticised those who are adamant  there is no housing crisis citing the baby boomers who have long-since paid off their own mortgage as being ignorant to millennials issues getting on the housing ladder – it’s not all smashed avocados!

Javid concluded that “it’s painfully obvious that there remains much, much more to be done” to solve the housing crisis in this country. Critical to housing supply, Sajid Javid highlighted the importance of an adopted Local Plan to give certainty to local people. He then went on to name and shame 15 authorities who have failed to adopt a plan. Whilst some have stayed conspicuously quiet, York and St Albans have been quick to explain their “exceptional” circumstances. We shall see what comes on as government taking on plan making or is this just another idle threat…

National Infrastructure Commission

Then, we had Lord Adonis, Chairman of the National Infrastructure Commission promising to deliver new and improved infrastructure to help deliver one million new homes and jobs by 2050. “The arc spanning Cambridge, Milton Keynes and Oxford attracts the brightest and best from some of the most cutting edge industries. But the area also suffers from a lack of available homes and an infrastructure network that is feeling the strain – pricing local people out of the market, making it difficult for businesses to recruit staff, and threatening the future competitiveness of one of the most successful parts of the country.”

In particular, transport improvements include;

  • The delivery of the new East-West Rail line connecting Oxford and Cambridge, unlocking the potential for substantial new developments: this includes accelerating its delivery from Bicester to Bedford by 2023, and from Bedford to Cambridge by 2030; and
  • Accelerating the development and construction of a link between the M1 and Oxford by 2030, as part of the proposed Oxford-Cambridge Expressway

Autumn Budget

And following all that excitement, Philip Hammond, Chancellor of the Exchequer set out in his Autumn budget yesterday where measures to tackle the housing crisis included a £44bn package of investment, loans and guarantees to increase the annual amount of new homes built to 300,000 in the middle of the next decade (despite that the latest standardised OAN methodology would only deliver 260,000).

In his speech to the House of Commons he stated;

“There is one area where young people today will, rightly, feel concern about their future prospects – and that is in the housing market. House prices are increasingly out of reach for many. It takes too long to save for a deposit and rents absorb too high a portion of monthly income. So the number of 25-34 year olds owning their own home has dropped from 59% to just 38% over the last thirteen years.

Put simply, successive governments over decades, have failed to build enough homes to deliver the home-owning dream that this country has always been proud of. …If we don’t increase supply of land for new homes, more money will inflate prices, and make matters worse…

Within the Autumn Budget, there are a few standout planning measures:

  • The Budget document says that the government will “bring together public and private capital to build five new garden towns, using appropriate delivery vehicles such as development corporations, including in areas of high demand such as the South East”. Budget documents say that this policy will not apply to green belt areas, in line with the government’s restated overall commitment to “maintain existing protections” for green belt land…this is despite that this is where there is the highest demand.
  • A review panel, chaired by Tory MP Sir Oliver Letwin, is to be established “to explain the significant gap between housing completions and the amount of land allocated or permissioned, and make recommendations for closing it”. The review will provide an interim report in time for Spring Statement 2018 and a full report at Budget 2018. In his Budget speech, the chancellor said that if the review finds “that vitally needed land is being withheld from the market for commercial, rather than technical, reasons, [he] will intervene to change the incentives to ensure such land is brought forward for development”.
  • The Homes and Communities Agency is to get new planning and compulsory purchase powers as part of an expanded role, the chancellor has announced. Hammond confirmed that the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) would be renamed Homes England and would “expand” to help support local authorities and developers to deliver new housing and infrastructure.
  • Plan to boost the supply of small sites – The Budget says that the government will consult on measures that would require local authorities to bring forward 20 per cent of their housing supply as small sites. “This will speed up the building of new homes and supports the government’s wider ambition to increase competition in the housebuilding market”. In a section setting out measures intended to ensure that permissions are built out faster, the Budget document also says that the government will consult on “strengthening the housing delivery test with tougher consequences where planned homes are not being built” and to speed up the development process “by removing the exemptions from the deemed discharge rules”.
  • New £220 million clean air fund announced – the Budget says that the government will provide £220 million for a new clean air fund. “This will allow local authorities in England with the most challenging pollution problems to help individuals and businesses adapt as measures to improve air quality are implemented,” the Budget document says.

Find out more about the Autumn 2017 budget by clicking here