The Budget 2017 – Building on the reforms in the Housing White Paper

24th November, 2017

In his Autumn Budget, the Chancellor put more flesh on the bones of the Government’s proposed Planning Reforms, first signalled in the Housing White Paper back in February and developed in the “Right Homes Right Places” consultation in September. The reforms are intended to deliver the Prime Minister’s personal promise to “restore the dream of home ownership” through “fixing the broken housing market”

The Budget Statement sets out “a comprehensive package” of new (and frankly not so new) policies and measures aimed at boosting the supply of new housing. A new target of building 300,000 additional dwellings per annum is set. 

Disappointingly (but not surprisingly) the Government has again rejected a long overdue review of Green Belt policy, relying instead, on reinforcing its commitment to maximising the potential of land in our towns and cities (in terms reminiscent of the mantra of PPG3). 

The “package” includes:

  • An additional £15.3 billion of new financial support for housing over the next five years;

  • A commitment to ‘Strategic planning in the South East’ – more strategic and zonal planning in the region where “housing need is at its most acute”, the first step being a housing deal in Oxfordshire to deliver 100,000 homes (by 2031) as part of a new the Cambridge-Milton Keynes-Oxford strategic growth corridor; and

  • A new £630 million fund to help accelerate delivery of new homes on small, stalled sites to help with infrastructure and land remediation. 

To boost housing land supply, we are now expecting further consultation in the New Year on a wide range of reforms including:

  • Strengthening the Housing Delivery Test – By 2020, the NPPF’s ‘presumption in favour’ will be engaged where LPA’s delivery rates fall below 75%;

  • A requirement for 20% housing supply to be on ‘small sites’;

  • Establishing a central register of housing sites with permission to encourage sites to be built-out;

  • Deallocation of sites with no prospect of coming forward in a plan period;

  • Relaxing Development Plan policy for ‘first-time buyer led’ housing schemes;

  • Minimum densities for housing schemes in city centres and around transport hubs;

  • Policy changes to encourage conversion of retail and employment land, and to support the conversion of empty space above high street shops for more housing;

  • Further expansion of permitted development to allow demolition of commercial property for development of new homes;

  • The long-awaited response to the CIL Review.  Rather than a new flat-rate levy as had been recommended, it seems that the Government propose to make it easier for LPAs to revise CIL to respond to market changes, including ‘zonal CIL’ in areas of higher land value e.g. areas around transport hubs; and

  • Introducing the option of a ‘Strategic infrastructure Tariff’ for Combined Authorities to charge for strategic and local infrastructure.

If you have any queries about how the Budget may affect your development and planning interests, then please do not hesitate to contact us.