Monthly Archives: January 2018

 

The Review of build out – house building delays

 

We need more homes, what’s the delay?

On the 14th January 2018, the Minister of Housing Communities and Local Government (MHCLG), published details about the ‘Letwin’ review. Sir Oliver Letwin, former Cabinet Office Minister was asked to chair a review into the gap between planning permissions granted and homes built.

The review:

  • The aim of the review is to find out why there is a significant gap between housing completions and the amount of land allocated or permissioned in areas of high housing demand – and make recommendations for closing that gap
  • The review should identify the main causes of the gap and what practical steps can be taken to increase the speed of build out
  • The long term goal is to support an increase in housing supply that will be consistent with a stable housing market

Sir Oliver Letwin said: “This government is serious about finding ways to increase the speed of build out as well as tackling the complicated issues surrounding it. That’s why we have set up this diverse panel to help me test my analysis and to make practical, non-partisan recommendations, as we look to increase housing supply that’s consistent with a stable UK housing market.”

Housing secretary Sajid Javid said: “We are determined to build the homes this country needs, but currently there is still a significant gap between the number of planning permissions being granted and the number of homes built. This review is vital to helping us understand how we can build more homes quickly.”

He added, ”The review will provide an interim report to the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government in time for Spring Statement 2018 and a full report for Budget 2018.”

Mr Javid confirmed that:

  • Mr Letwin would chair a ‘Panel’ to support the work
  • A base would be provided and a team of 2-3 officials would be allocated to achieve the proposed review
  • The Housing Minister would chair a fortnightly steering group with Her Majesty’s Treasury and No.10 Downing Street teams to provide appropriate support
  • Simon Gallagher as Senior Responsible Officer would support this with an official’s group. Should it prove necessary to involve other departments he would be happy to expand to cover broader groups      

The bill will be constructed in two phases:

  • Phase 1 – currently underway – will seek to identify the main causes of the gap by reviewing large housing sites where planning permission has already been granted. This will include information-gathering sessions with local authorities, developers, non-government organisations and others. Early findings will be published in the interim report
  • Phase 2 – will make recommendations on practical steps to increase the speed of build-out, which will be published in the full report

The review will also consider how to avoid interventions which might discourage housebuilding or hinder the regeneration of complex sites.


The review team members are:

  • Richard Ehrman – author, small commercial property developer and former journalist. Former special adviser to the Secretary of State for Employment and subsequently Northern Ireland, onetime Chief Leader Writer of the Daily Telegraph, and former Deputy Chairman of Policy Exchange
  • Lord Jitesh Gadhia – Member of House of Lords and investment banker
  • Lord John Hutton – (Labour) Peer and former Secretary of State
  • Rt Hon Baroness Usha Prashar CBE, PC – (Crossbench) Peer with a career spanning public, not for profit and private sectors, currently Deputy Chairman, British Council and a non-Executive Director of Nationwide Building Society
  • Christine Whitehead – Emeritus Professor of Housing Economics at London School of Economics 

Let’s hope that the review will result in the government achieving their long-term goal.

Read the document – ‘Review of build out – terms of reference’

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Government reshuffle brings new housing minister and new department name

 

Good game, new name…

It’s another positive step in the right direction on the government’s mission to fix the broken housing market.

The Prime Minister has conducted a reshuffle of her cabinet and the ministerial team which has affected the Government’s housing portfolio.

The Rt Hon Sajid Javid remains in charge of the overall portfolio although his title has been broadened to the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities & Local Government reflecting the priority given to housing by the PM and a change of name for the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG).

Housing Secretary Sajid Javid said:

“Building the homes our country needs is an absolute priority for this government and so I’m delighted the Prime Minister has asked me to serve in this role. The name change for the department reflects this government’s renewed focus to deliver more homes and build strong communities across England.”

The DCLG, formed in 2006 has been renamed the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG).

An article published on the GOV.UK website on the 8th January 2018 confirmed the government’s renewed focus on housing.

Further changes were announced:

  • Alok Sharma, Minister of State for Housing who has held the position since June 2017, is being switched to the Department for Work and Pensions as he takes up a new role as Minister of State for Employment
  • Dominic Raab, MP for Esher and Walton, replaces Mr Sharma as Housing and Planning Minister at the newly branded MHCLG. He previously held the role of Minister of State for Courts and Justice

About Dominic Raab…

  • A former international lawyer who, after working for a law firm in the City, joined the Foreign & Commonwealth Office. There he advised on a wide range of briefs, including UK investor protection, counter-proliferation and counter-terrorism and UK overseas territories
  • After leaving the Foreign & Commonwealth Office in 2006, he worked for three years as Chief of Staff to Shadow Home and Justice Secretaries, advising the Conservative frontbench on crime, policing, immigration, counter-terrorism, human rights and constitutional reform
  • He was elected as the MP for Esher and Walton in 2010 with a majority of 18,593. He increased this majority to almost 30,000 at the 2015 general election before achieving a majority of 23,298 in 2017
  • Raab served the Joint Committee on Human Rights and Education Select Committee between 2010 and 2015 and in 2016 was elected by MPs to sit on Parliament’s Committee on Exiting the EU, which scrutinises the government’s approach to Brexit
  • In terms of housing and planning interests, Raab has previously led a campaign to protect the Green Belt in and around Elmbridge. His website states that he has “campaigned consistently to maintain effective greenbelt protections, which was confirmed as national policy by the government in its 2017 White Paper.”
  • In 2011 he also called for allowing the local community to determine the balance of development as well as streamlining the bureaucracy of the planning process for the benefit of councils

Elsewhere, Greg Clark will remain as Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy while Marcus Jones has been announced as the new Conservative Party Vice Chair for Local Government, vacating his role as Minister for Local Government within MHCLG.

A new Local Government Minister had not been announced on the 8th January. Further, previous Housing Minister, and more recently Immigration Minister Brandon Lewis, has been appointed as Conservative Party Chairman, being replaced by Caroline Nokes in the immigration brief at the Home Office.

Following the resignation of Justine Greening as Education Secretary, Damian Hinds is the new Secretary of State in the department responsible for skills.

Hopefully, the reshuffle and potentially a new housing game plan will boost our confidence in the government and their attempts to fix the broken housing market.

Read more about the 2017 housing white paper.

Do you have any planning needs or housing projects that you would like to discuss? Contact us today.

 

 

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