Monthly Archives: October 2017

 

Planning for the right homes in the right places

 

On Thursday 14th September 2017, Sajid Javid, the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government published a consultation – ‘Planning for the right homes in the right places: Consultation proposals’.

The document covers six specific subjects reflecting proposals raised through the Housing White Paper published in February 2017. These are:

  • Proposed approach to calculating the local housing need
  • Statements of Common Ground
  • Planning for a mix of housing needs
  • Neighbourhood Planning
  • Proposed approach to viability assessment
  • Planning fees

The consultation period runs until 9th November 2017. The full consultation and associated annexes can be found here.

In the consultation, Sajid Javid made the following points:

  • The housing market in this country is dysfunctional
  • For too long, there hasn’t been enough homes being built, “The damaging financial crisis ten years ago compounded this problem”
  • Due to the action that has been taken over the past seven years, the situation is improving. Last year saw more planning permissions granted than ever before, while the number of new building starts is at its highest level in nearly a decade
  • The housing White Paper, published earlier this year, set out how the government are going to get England building. That they are delivering their 2015 commitment of a million new homes by 2020, and want to supply a further half a million by 2022
  • The measures in the consultation will help ensure that local authorities plan for the right homes in the right places. This means creating a system that is clear and transparent so that every community and local area understands the scale of the housing challenge they face
  • Local authorities must not waste time and money on complex, inconsistent and expensive processes. This only creates lengthy bureaucratic arguments, often behind closed doors, and isolates local communities
  • The new approach proposed will give local communities greater control so they can make informed decisions about exactly where much-needed new homes should be built. In doing so it will help to tackle the lack of affordability of housing in this country, and support those families who want the security of owning their own home

Javid said, “The proposals in this consultation provide a more robust starting point for making these important decisions. Without the right starting point, we can’t make the wider reforms to the housing market that will ensure homes are built faster, by a more diverse housing market, to meet the needs of ordinary households and communities now and in the future. Nor is this consultation just about the numbers. It’s also about how areas can work together where communities’ needs cannot be met locally. And it’s about putting the right resources into local planning authorities so their plans can be delivered and communities can see the benefit of high quality, well-planned homes. We recognise that this is not easy.”

The consultation also sets out the government’s ambition to publish a revised National Planning Policy Framework in Spring 2018. This will ensure that they not only plan for the right homes in the right places, but that they turn existing and future planning permissions quickly into homes through reforms such as the Housing Delivery Test.

Javid concluded, “Nobody likes indiscriminate, unplanned and unwelcome development. But most of us are willing to welcome new homes if they’re well-designed, built in the right places, and are planned with the co-operation of the local community. To win the support of local residents, we have to build homes people want to live alongside as well as in. This consultation is the first step in making sure all that happens – and making sure our children and grandchildren can access the safe, secure, affordable housing they need and deserve.”

The government launched their £2.3 billion Housing Infrastructure Fund earlier this year to ensure essential physical infrastructure, such as schools and roads, is built alongside the new homes we so badly need. They are going to explore bespoke housing deals with authorities in high demand areas with genuine ambition to build. The government will also provide further support to local authority planning departments with a £25 million capacity fund.

We will be doing a further blog on the details of the elements of the guidance shortly, so keep an eye out!

Click here to read the whole consultation – ‘Planning for the right homes in the right places: Consultation proposals’.

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Theresa May goes flat at the Conservative party Conference in Manchester 2017

 

One word that came away from the Conservative party conference in Manchester was ‘flat’. It was a sobering word and consistent amongst opinions of those that attended.

This week, 1st-4th October 2017 saw Theresa May perch at her stand and deal with the many challenges the conference threw at her. The mood was one of ‘cheer up Theresa’. Should we be sympathetic or believe she has brought this upon herself? I guess that is a matter of personal opinion.

Earlier on in the conference, the government announced a cash injection to secure status of ‘Help to Buy to 2021’. The Prime minister revealed that £10bn of funding for the Help to Buy Equity Loan scheme will be available to ensure its continued operation to 2021. This action appeared to be an effort to appeal to younger voters. A challenge that May has faced since the vote.

The concern about the Conservative’s enthusiasm to help with the scheme is that funding may deplete too quickly.

In his speech, Chancellor Philip Hammond said, “The additional funding would be used to ensure the scheme is resourced and able to continue until 2021.”

He added, “Help to Buy: Equity Loan has achieved much higher take-up than we expected, helping 130,000 families so far with a deposit for their own home.

The figures published by DCLG last week revealed:

  • The previous 12 months had seen £2.55bn spent on equity loans
  • The Homes and Communities Agency’s annual accounts, published during the summer, confirmed that having forecast 30,000 completions, the scheme actually supported more than 40,000 households to buy a home during 2016/17
  • The success of the London Help to Buy scheme, with 40% equity loans since last year saw uptake in the capital rise by 95% in Q2 2017 compared with the same period in 2016. Help to Buy completions in London now account for 10% by number but 25% by value of equity loans

Over the last 12 months, the HBF has been engaged with Government at various levels. They stressed the need for clarity, both on the position up to 2021, but also the future post-2021. On the latter point, the government said, “We will continue to press ministers and officials on the benefits of indicating as soon as possible its intentions beyond March 2021.”

To exaggerate the benefits of the Help to Buy scheme for homebuyers and communities around the country, HBF last week published ‘Stepping Up’, exploring the economic benefits of the scheme to date. Its publication came as HBF published its latest Housing Pipeline study showing that the number of plots granted planning permission in the last 12 months reached the highest number since the quarterly research began in 2006.

Whilst Mr Hammond’s speech was somewhat reassuring, the rest of the conference was somewhat bland.  That said, the Conservative party appeared resilient. Theresa May was focused on fixing the broken housing market.

The Prime Minister’s much anticipated speech included the following:

  • Home ownership and housing supply – building on the announcement earlier in the week of extra funding for the Help to Buy scheme, she announced the investment of an additional £2bn in affordable housing, to be bid for by councils and housing associations to deliver new social rented homes, ‘getting government back into the business of building homes
  • Following the decision to bolster the budget for Help to Buy, the PM also used her speech to send ‘the clearest possible message to our house builders’. She said: “We, the government, will make sure the land is available. We’ll make sure our young people have the skills you need. In return, you must do your duty to Britain and build the homes our country needs.’
  • Addressing the importance of tackling the housing crisis, Mrs May said:

“I will dedicate my premiership to fixing this problem – to restoring hope. To renewing the British Dream for a new generation of people.  And that means fixing our broken housing market. “

  • Turning to the £10bn injection of funding into the Help to Buy scheme, the PM directly linked the party’s failure to secure a majority at the General Election with its inability to connect with young voters on housing issues: “Because it will take time for greater housebuilding to translate into more affordable house prices, we have introduced schemes like Help to Buy to support people who are struggling right now. But the election result showed us that this is not nearly enough. We’ve listened and we’ve learned. So this week, the Chancellor announced that we will help over 130,000 more families with the deposit they need to buy their own home by investing a further £10 billion in Help to Buy.”

The Prime minister closed the conference with a speech where she pledged to ‘renew the British dream’.

Mrs May said she would take personal charge of ‘reigniting home ownership’ and delivering affordable housing for a new generation.  If so, let’s see what she is able to drive.

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Our Girl On The Tube takes on the Three Peaks Challenge in 28 hours

 

This last weekend 29th September saw our girl on the tube take on the challenge of climbing the three peaks in 24 hours to raise money for Breast Cancer Now just at the start of breast cancer awareness month. Having checked the weather over the days before, things were looking rather gloomy. But we can safely say Kathryn got off all three mountains and was back in the office on Monday morning with only sore calfs thighs and shoulders.

So what’s it all about?

The national three peaks challenge sees participants try to climb the three highest mountains and travel between the three within 24 hours.

Ben Nevis or “The Ben” is the highest mountain in Scotland at 1,344.527m (or 1,345m on the new Ordnance Survey maps when modern GPS systems found a few extra metres) At the summit are the ruins of an observatory which closed in 1904.


Scafell Pike is located in the Lake District National Park and is  the highest mountain in England at 978 miles. This mountain is climbed over night.

Mount Snowdon located in Snowdonia National Park is the tallest mountain in Wales at an impressive 1085m in height. Climbing the pyg track up…

…and the tourist route down, Snowdon proved to be the most challenging with winds and gusts of about 75 miles per hour.

In all the challenge involved 42 kilometres (26 miles) of walking and approximately 9,600 feet of ascent, with total travel between the mountains of around 475 miles.
Kathryn’s been raising money for Breast Cancer Now in memory of her mother who died in 2001 at the age of 48 after being diagnosed with breast cancer in 1996. One in eight women in the UK will face breast cancer in their lifetime. And every 45 minutes, another woman dies from the disease.

With the aim of ensuring that by 2050 every person who is diagnosed with breast cancer survives their diagnosis Breast Cancer Now spend a significant proportion of their funds on research for risk and prevention, early detection and diagnosis, treatment and secondary breast cancer.

Find out more at: http://breastcancernow.org/breast-cancer-research

You can still donate at: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/kathryn-waldron1

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