Category Archives: Commenting on Government

 

Here’s what you need to know about viability in the revised NPPG

 

Viability is not dealt within the NPPF, it is dealt with separately in the NPPG.
The draft NPPF stated that “where proposals for development accord with all the relevant policies in an up-to-date development plan, no viability assessment should be required to accompany the application”. The revised 2018 Framework removes this measure and states at paragraph 57: “Where up-to-date policies have set out the contributions expected from development, planning applications that comply with them should be assumed to be viable. It is up to the applicant to demonstrate whether particular circumstances justify the need for a viability assessment at the application stage”

Viability should be Assessed at Plan Making Stage.
Previously discussions and considerations of viability were undertaken at the decision-making stage which may have led to delays and local authorities not securing the level of affordable housing and infrastructure they required.

The responsibility has now shifted towards local authorities to undertake viability earlier in the process to ensure that they set appropriate levels of infrastructure requirements. This will require greater co-operation between landowners, developers and local authorities to undertake meaningful discussions and agree what is considered viable. At decision making stage, where matters have already been agreed there may be less delays in agreeing matters of viability which wont slow down the determination of applications.

Costs and Requirements for Affordable Housing and Infrastructure Should be Set At A Level That Does Not Require Further Assessment At Decision Making Stage.
There may need to be more negotiation between landowners, developers and local authorities earlier in the plan making process to ensure that requirements for affordable housing and infrastructure are set at a level that does not undermine overall delivery of the site.

The Council may set out within their plans when a viability assessment may be required.
The PPG sets out that viability should be addressed at plan making stage, but states that local authorities can set out when viability assessments may be required to support planning applications.

The Price Paid for Land is not a Justification for Failing to Accord With the Relevant Policies in a Development Plan.
This played out in Parkhurst Road Limited v Secretary of State for Housing Communities and Local Government & London Borough of Islington. Case No: CO/3528/2017. We discuss this below:

Parkhurst Road Limited v Secretary of State for Housing Communities and Local Government & London Borough of Islington
The key consideration within the High Court was the price paid by the developers and the approach taken to assessing viability to justify the minimal amount of affordable housing. The appellants and the Council disagreed on the benchmark land value as the appellants used the purchase price as an acquisition cost leading to profit levels being below normal target values.

Islington disagreed with this using the same methodology excluding the site acquisition cost. The Council carried out a series of residual valuations inputting alternative affordable housing proportions of 50%, 40% and 32% which produced residual land valuations for the site of £4.98m, £7.32m and £9.35m respectively. They contended that the price which Parkhurst Road Ltd had paid for the site was excessive since it did not properly reflect the policy requirement to maximise the affordable housing component.

The viability assessment of the site has never been made public, but it is of direct relevance as its part of the weight applied to the development proposals.

When reading Justice Holgate’s decision, there are criticisms of the wider approach taken to viability:
“where an applicant seeking planning permission for residential development in Islington proposes that the “maximum reasonable amount of affordable housing” is lower than the borough-wide 50% target on viability grounds, it is his responsibility to demonstrate that that is so

Justice Holgate also recognised the inherent tension between decision makers and developers stating that:
“According to the basic principles set out in the NPPF and the NPPG, it is understandable why a decision-maker may, as a matter of judgment, attach little or no weight to a developer’s analysis which claims to show a “market norm” for BLV by doing little more than averaging land values obtained from a large number of transactions within a district…

…On the other hand, it is understandable why developers and landowners may argue against local policy statements that BLV should simply conform to an “EUV plus a percentage” basis of valuation, especially where the document has not been subjected to independent statutory examination prior to adoption. Some adherents appear to be promoting a formulaic application of “EUV plus.”

Justice Holgate suggests that RICS could consider revisiting the 2012 Guidance Note, perhaps in conjunction with MHCLG and the RTPI, to address any misunderstandings about market valuation concepts and techniques to address the “circularity” issue and any other problems encountered in practice over the last 6 years, to help avoid protracted disputes.

The Guidance Removes Flexibility in Considering Policy Requirements
The previous Guidance stated that ‘where the viability of a development is in question, local planning authorities should look to be flexible in applying policy requirements wherever possible.

This hard-line approach allows decision makers to decide an application on whether it achieves the full policy requirements or not.

A Standard Approach to Viability where Previously it was Accepted there was no Standard Answer to Viability
Again the flexible approach to viability has been removed in favour of a standard approach to be taken across all sites. The intention is probably to speed up delivery as all matters will be assessed, although the same approach cannot be used for different site characteristics such as brownfield and greenfield sites. If the standardised approach doesn’t work for a site, the Council may have to look at alternatives until one fits the approach.

Land Value Calculated on Existing Use Value plus a Premium
The Guidance sets out the approach to be taken to Benchmark Land Value, again to give decision makers more support in assessing development viability.

Premium is described in broad terms as the minimum price a rational landowner would be willing to sell their land, although there is likely to be further debate over what a premium should be and this debate is likely to delay the overall Local Plan process. .

A Return of 15-20% of Gross Development Value
The Draft PPG referred to 20 per cent return which has been the accepted level of return.

The PPG states that a lower figure:
may be more appropriate in consideration of delivery of affordable housing in circumstances where this guarantees an end sale at a known value and reduces the risk

Viability Assessments to be Publicly Available.
A Viability Assessment will only be kept confidential in exceptional circumstances, and it will be down to the applicant to justify the case for confidentiality. Within the Parkhurst case, the decision refers to the Viability Assessment never being provided.

Conclusions
The revised approach to viability whilst potentially aiming to speed up the decision making process, may have the unintended consequences of delaying the plan making process as Local Authorities, developers and landowners grapple with the revised approach to infrastructure costs and negotiate the best scenarios for all parties.

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12 things you need to know about the Revised NPPF

 

As you may be aware, the government published the revised National Planning Policy Framework on 24th July 2018. This means that the NPPF 2018 is a material consideration in determining planning applications. If you have not had a chance to read the document, you can download the NPPF 2018 here. We have analysed the changes made since the draft was consulted upon in Spring and here are 12 things you need to know:

  • Implementation
  • Viability
  • Design standards
  • Green Belt
  • Housing delivery test
  • Standardised method of calculating housing need
  • Inclusion of social rent in definition of affordable housing
  • Small sites
  • Neighbourhood development plans
  • Voluntary PPAs
  • Storage and distribution operations
  • Ancient Woodland and veteran trees

Implementation
NPPF 2018 is now a material consideration which means that the policies come into effect straight away. However, the NPPF 2018 states that, Local Plans submitted before 24 January 2018 will be Examined against the 2012 NPPF. Any Plans submitted after this date will be examined under the new 2018 policies. This could mean that part of a Council’s newly prepared Plan could be immediately out of date which may contribute to penalties/interventions.

Viability
There is a significant shift in the role of viability assessments. The 2018 Framework now requires viability to be dealt with at the plan making stage, thus shifting responsibility on LPAs as opposed to developers. Essentially, LPAs will now be required to set strategic site allocations, infrastructure requirements and a minimum level of affordable housing which they consider viable. The draft NPPF stated  that “where proposals for development accord with all the relevant policies in an up-to-date development plan, no viability assessment should be required to accompany the application”. The revised 2018 Framework removes this measure and states at paragraph 57: “Where up-to-date policies have set out the contributions expected from development, planning applications that comply with them should be assumed to be viable. It is up to the applicant to demonstrate whether particular circumstances justify the need for a viability assessment at the application stage”. This provides decision makers more power in deciding whether a viability assessment is required.

Design Standards
The 2018 Framework places emphasis on the importance of design standards and contains requirements that planning policies set out clear design and vision expectations in SPDs and design codes. It states that “being clear about design expectations, and how these will be tested, is essential for achieving this. So too is effective engagement between applicants, communities, local planning authorities and other interests throughout the process…” Councils should try to “ensure that the quality of approved development is not materially diminished between permission and completion, as a result of changes being made to the permitted scheme”. The policies should however be flexible and allow variety, however, as with design there may be an element of subjectivity.

Green Belt
The draft Framework published in March 2018 stated that “once established, green belt boundaries should only be altered in exceptional circumstances, through the preparation or updating of plans.” The 2018 Framework however requires greenbelt reviews to be ‘fully evidenced and justified’. Paragraph 136 of the 2018 Framework states that “Once established, green belt boundaries should only be altered where exceptional circumstances are fully evidenced and justified, through the preparation or updating of plans“. LPA are required to fully examine all reasonable options to meet its identified need for development. However, this amendment appears to tighten the already restrictive Green Belt release policy.

Housing Delivery Test
No significant amendments have been made to the government’s new Housing Delivery Test. Where delivery is below 75% of the housing requirement from 2020, the Government intends to apply the presumption in favour of sustainable development

Standardised Method of Calculating Housing Need
The 2018 Framework implements a standard methodology for assessing housing need. This method is intended to simplify Objectively Assessed Need (OAN) calculations to provide a centrally-based figure. This is done by taking the Government’s household growth projections and applying an affordability ratio, and comparing local house prices with workplace earnings to identify a need figure. The 2018 Framework states that “strategic policies should, as a minimum, provide for objectively assessed needs for housing and other uses, as well as any needs that cannot be met within neighbouring areas , unless the application of policies in this Framework that protect areas or assets of particular importance provides a strong reason for restricting the overall scale, type or distribution of development in the plan area… ; or  any adverse impacts of doing so would significantly and demonstrably outweigh the benefits, when assessed against the policies in this Framework taken as a whole”. This strengthens the requirement for LPAs to cooperate with each other in meeting unmet housing requirements.

Social Rent in Definition of Affordable Housing
The term which had been omitted from March’s draft version prompting concerns from some sector bodies has now been reinstated.

Small Sites
The policy encouraging the use of small sites has now been altered to include sites of up to 1ha and medium sized sites. Development plans are now required to identify land to accommodate at least 10% of housing requirement on small sites.

Neighbourhood Development Plans
Paragraph 14 of the 2018 Framework states that presumption in favour of sustainable would apply in the absence of an up to date plan – however by allowing housing schemes that conflict with NDP it is likely to “significantly and demonstrably outweigh the benefits“. It is suggested that where a plan has been adopted two years or less before the decision, it contains policies and allocations to meet its identified housing requirement. As such, the LPA would have at least a three-year supply of deliverable housing sites against its five-year requirement.

Voluntary PPAs
Paragraph 46 of the 2018 Framework states that Planning Performance Agreements (PPAs) are likely to be needed for applications which are large or complex to determine. The suggestion of potential of voluntary PPAs were excluded from the March draft NPPF.

Storage and distribution operations
Paragraph 82 of the 2018 Framework refers to the provision for storage and distribution operations “at a variety of scales and in suitably accessible locations“. This provision requires the specific locational requirements of storage operations to be recognised in planning policies and decisions.  This was omitted from the March 2018 draft.

Ancient Woodland and veteran trees
Paragraph 175(c) offers protection to woodland and ancient veteran trees. It states that development which result in the loss or deterioration of irreplaceable habitats such as ancient woodland and veteran trees should be refused unless there are exceptional reasons and mitigation in place. Veteran trees in the ancient woodland were excluded from the definition of ‘irreplaceable habitat’ in the draft Framework published in March 2018.

What do we think about the NPPF?
As highlighted in James Brockenshire’s Written Ministerial Statement, 85 of the proposals set out in the housing white paper and the Budget, are implemented in the new National Planning Policy Framework. The new rules require greater responsibility, transparency and accountability from both LPAs and developers. The amendments to Viability Assessments are ambitious and only time will how successful this approach will be. We are also disappointed to see the amendment to the already restrictive Green Belt Release Policy appears being tightened. The Housing Crisis is multifaceted in nature, exacerbated by other factors such as the shortage of construction workers, reduced LPA powers, a lack of transparency, increased demand brought on by decades of deregulation, and lax policies – the revisions to the NPPF alone cannot solve the Housing Crisis and therefore, other central government reforms will be necessary.

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Local Plan Updates and Progression August 2018

 

Local Plan Updates – Tracking and Progression

We have been tracking and following the progress of Local Plans in the different regions of England.

A Local Plan sets out planning policies and identifies how land is used – determining what will be built where. We’ve developed this Local Plan Schedule which we hope will keep you up to date on what Local Authorities are doing on their Plans and if you have any questions contact us today.

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Greater Birmingham HMA Strategic Growth Study

 

In February 2018, the Greater Birmingham HMA Strategic Growth Study prepared by GL Hearn and Wood Plc was published. We provide a summary of the key findings of the report.

Birmingham’s functional HMA covers more than Birmingham and includes the Black Country and parts of Worcestershire, Warwickshire and Staffordshire. It also covers authorities which are within the Greater Birmigham and Solihull LEP and the Black Country LEP. North Warwickshire and Stratford-on-Avon Districts  are authorities with an area of overlap between the Birmingham and Coventry/Warwickshire HMA.

 

The study’s  four main aims are:

  1. Review of existing identified supply to consider whether, by positively applying policies that are consistent for each type of site across the HMA, more dwellings could be provided through increased densities.
  2. Consider the potential additional supply on other land outside of the Green Belt that has not been previously considered for housing development
  3. If a shortfall remains after aim 1 & 2, to then consider the development potential and suitability of any large previously developed sites within the Green Belt that may lie in sustainable locations.
  4. Should a shortfall remain after undertaking tasks (1) to (3), undertake a full strategic review of the Green Belt within the HMA utilising a consistent Green Belt Review methodology, which assesses Green Belt against its five purposes.

”Whilst a single plan is not being prepared, housing need is a strategic issue which the HMA authorities need to collaborate in addressing through the Duty to Cooperate”.

Objectively Assessed Need

Existing Evidence Base

The report looks at the findings already published by local authorities as follows and also reviews the housing requirements within the adopted plans There is a 38,000 dwelling unmet need arising from the Birmingham Development Plan to 2031. In addition, there is an unmet need from Tamworth (1,825 dwellings to 2031) and Cannock Chase (500 dwellings to 2028).

Local Authority OAN Plan period Housing requirement Shortfall
Birmingham 89,000 2011-2031 51000 -38,00
Bromsgrove 6,648 (2011-2030) 7000 0
Cannock Chase 5300 2006-2028 5300 -500
Lichfield 8600 2008-2029 10,030 0
Redditch 6400 2011-2030 6400 0
Solihull 14,277 2014-2033 15029
Tamworth 6250 2006-2031 4425 -1,825
Warwickshire 3150 2011-2029 9070
Stratford on Avon 14,600 2011-2031 14600
Black Country 78,190 2014-2036 63000
South Staffordshire 5933 2014-2036 3850
HMA total 11,500

Projections

The GL Hearn assessment of OAN has been considered using four projections:

Economic Projections

Economy Plus Scenario

The Economy plus is a scenario modelled in the Strategic Economic Plan for further and faster growth than predicted in the three LEP Strategic Economic Plans. This is an aspirational ‘policy on’ scenario based on a policy aspiration to improve economic performance.

The West Midland Strategic Economic Plan is based on the economy plus scenario( as set out in the West Midlands Combined Authority’s Strategic Economic Plan) up to 2036 this scenario suggests a requirements for 310,188 dwellings.

Baseline Economic Growth

The baseline economic growth projection is based on a continuation of past trends, but takes into account how different economic sectors are expected to perform in the future (relative to the past). It should be regarded as ‘policy neutral’. Up to 2036 this projection suggests a need for 240,012 dwellings

Demographic Projections

There are three demographic projections that the report considers:

2014 Based Subnational Population Projections

These were the latest official, 2014-based, Household Projections, which Government’s Planning Practice Guidance identifies as the ‘starting point’ for quantifying OAN and suggests 255,533 dwellings required to 2036. 

Rebased Sub National Population Projections

The rebased SNPP rebases the 2014-based Population and Household Projections to take account of population growth between 2014-15 shown in ONS Mid-Year Population Estimates. This projection suggests a requirement for  254,873 dwellings to 2036 .

10 year Migration

The 10 year migration projection considers the difference between the trends in migration over the input period to the SNPP (the 5 years to 2014 for domestic and 6 years for international migration) and those over a 10 year period (2005-15), and then adjusts future trends in migration based on the difference between these. This projection shows a requirement for 251, 647 dwellings up to 2036. 

Government Standardised Approach

The report also considers the Governments standardised approach to OAN which is to use latest official projections, with adjustments then applied based on the degree to which the affordability ratio is over 4, with a 1% increase in the ratio of median house prices to earnings over.

The report envisages a cap which is 40% above existing local plan figures where the local plan was adopted in the previous 5 years; or 40% above either the latest local plan or the household projections (whichever is the higher) where there is not an up-to-date local plan.

The uncapped need figures arising from this approach align broadly with the demographic baseline position to 2031, showing a need for 207,000 homes. To 2036 the uncapped need is for 265,000 homes which is around 4% above the demographic need shown by the projections within the report.

 Unmet Needs

North Warwickshire and Stratford-on-Avon have agreed to make provision for Coventry’s unmet housing needs. North Warwickshire is contributing 860 dwellings to meeting Coventry’s unmet needs to 2031 and 2,020 dwellings from Stratford-on-Avon, totalling 2,880 dwellings. If this was rolled forward to 2036 on a pro-rata basis, this would be 3,600 dwellings.

“GL Hearn conclude that on the basis of the current evidence provision of between 205,000 – 246,000 homes is needed across the Birmingham HMA to 2031; and provision of between 256,000 – 310,000 homes to 2036 (from a 2011 baseline) to meet the Birmingham HMA’s housing needs and taking account of Coventry’s unmet need of 208,000 dwellings to 2031 and 258,500 homes to 2036”. 

Land Supply

Shortfall

GL Hearn’s initial information submitted indicated a land supply of around 203,000 dwellings to 2036, of which 200,000 dwellings could be delivered over the period to 2031.

This is made up of

  • Completions –
  • Sites with Planning Permissions (i.e. Commitments) –
  • Extant Allocations without Planning Consent
  • Allocations in Emerging Plans
  • Additional Urban Supply
  • Windfalls

Land supply by Authority

Birmingham (April 2016):A total land supply for 51,458 dwellings is identified to 2031 and 59,858 to 2036.

Bromsgrove (April 2017): A total land supply of 5,099 dwellings is identified to 2031 and 5,299 dwellings to 2036.

Cannock Chase (April 2016): A total land supply of 4,615 dwellings is identified to 2031 and 4,685 dwellings to 2036.

Dudley (April 2016): A total land supply of 17,918 dwellings is identified to 2031 and 18,668 dwellings to 2036.

Lichfield( August 2017): A total land supply of 10,973 dwellings is identified to 2031 and 11,248 dwellings to 2036.

North Warkwickshir(April 2017): A total land supply of 9,060 dwellings is identified to 2031 and 9,360 dwellings to 2036. This includes making specific provision to meet an unmet need for 4,410 dwellings from other parts of the Birmingham HMA, as identified in Section 3 as well as 860 dwellings unmet need from Coventry.

Redditch (April 2017): 7,488 dwellings to 2031 and 7,543 dwellings to 2036.

Sandwell (April 2016): 19,930 dwellings is identified to 2031 and 20,813 dwellings to 2036. The land supply has been assessed to 2036.

Solihull (April 2016): 5,717 dwellings  to 2031 and 16,945 dwellings to 2036 including specific provision for a contribution of 2,000 dwellings to meeting unmet needs of the Birmingham HMA.

South Staffordshire (April 2017): 3,493 dwellings to 2031 and 3,643 dwellings to 2036

Stratford-on-Avon (April 2016):16,713 dwellings to 2031 and 19,358 dwellings to 2036

Tamworth (April 2017): 4,495 dwellings to 2031 and 4,680 dwellings to 2036.

Walsall (April 2017): 10,879 dwellings to 2031 and 11,284 dwellings to 2036.

Wolverhampton (April 2016):13,816 dwellings to 2031 and 16,495 dwellings to 2036.

Following the submission of the initial information, adjustments were made to ensure consistency with the windfall approach and non implementation discounts.

Approaches to Delivery

Existing Sites

The report explores in detail approaches to be taken to providing additional land to be identified within urban areas including brownfield land, disposing of surplus public sector land, estate regeneration, town centre regeneration and disposing of surplus open space.  The report also assesses in detail the potential to increase densities across the HMA and concludes that  it would be reasonable to assume minimum densities of 40 dph are achieved in the conurbation (Birmingham and the Black Country urban area), with minimum densities of 35 dph in other parts of  the HMA. This approach would yield additional supply of 13,000 dwellings, principally over the period to 2031.

Identifying and Allocating Additional Land

Taking into account the potential housing supply which could be achieved by increasing densities, there remains a need to identify capable of supporting delivery of over 15,000 homes to 2031, and a total of over 47,800 homes to 2036. Additional land needs to be identified and allocated to meet this. This provides a clear basis for progressing a strategic review of the Birmingham Green Belt.

Given the scale of unmet need, the report focuses on strategic development options as follows:

  • Urban Extensions (1,500 – 7,500 dwellings);
  • Employment-led Strategic Development (1,500 – 7,500 dwellings); and
  • New Settlements (10,000+ dwellings). –

Potential Areas of Search for Strategic Development beyond the Green Belt

South Staffordshire

  • Urban Extension: North of Penkridge
  • Urban Extension: South of Stafford
  • New Settlement: Around Dunston

Lichfield

The Study initially identifies three potential Areas of Search for Strategic Development:

  • Urban Extension: East of Lichfield
  • Urban Extension: North of Tamworth
  • New Settlement: Around Fradley and Alrewas

North Warwickshire

One potential Area of Search for Strategic Development is identified to be tested:  Urban Extension: East of Polesworth

Within the HMA, the only location which has been identified by Government for new strategic development is Long Marston, which is designated a Garden Village. Consideration has therefore been given to the potential for enhanced strategic development in this broad area.

The potential Areas of Search for strategic development identified to be tested are thus:

  • Urban Extension: South of Stratford-upon-Avon town
  • New Settlement: Around Wellesbourne
  • New Settlement: South-West of Stratford-upon-Avon District

Potential Areas of Search in the Green Belt

The Study undertook a Strategic Green Belt Review, assessing the form and strategic function of the Green Belt against the purposes of Green Belt policy set out in the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) (Para 80).

Four spatial development models were created:

  • New settlements
    • Scale attracts greater opportunity for central government investment
  • Urban Extensions
    • Lead in times of typically 5+ years
    • Larger and more costly infrastructure requirements
  • Employment focus
    • Lead in times of 3-5 years
    • Larger infrastructure requirements
  • Proportionate Dispersal
    • These have the shortest lead in times and have typically lower requirements for strategic infrastructure

Six Areas of Search for new settlements and six for urban extensions are identified; together with three Areas of Search for employment-led development.

Recommended Areas of Search for Strategic Development

Employment-Led

  • I54
  • East of Birmingham
  • Birmingham Airport/ NEC

These Areas of Search have the following characteristics:

  • Strategic employment areas with a key employer and/or clustering of employers
  • Likely to be located adjacent to, or in the vicinity of, a Motorway junction.
  • Potential to support some housing provision as part of mixed-use development (1,500 to 7,500 dwellings).

Urban Extensions

The Study concludes that the strongest performing Urban Extension options which should be taken forward for more detailed consideration by the HMA authorities are:

  • South of Dudley
  • North of Tamworth
  • East of Lichfield
  • North of Penkridge.

New Settlements

The report recommends the following areas of search should be taken forward:

  • South of Birmingham
  • Between Birmingham and Bromsgrove/Redditch
  • Around Shenstone
  • Around Balsall Common

Summary

There is a minimum housing need for 205000 up to 2031 and 255,000 up to 2036. Taking into account shortfalls this increases to 208,000 up to 2031 and 258,00 to 2036.

The current evidence suggests provision of between 205,000 – 246,000 homes across the Birmingham HMA to 2031; and 256,000 – 310,000 homes to 2036.

There is a developable land supply of 180,000 to 2031 and 197,000 to 2036. Bringing together the need and currently identified supply, there is an outstanding minimum shortfall of 28,150 dwellings to 2031 and 60,900 dwellings to 2036 across the Birmingham HMA.

New strategic allocations will be required to address this shortfall across the whole HMA.

Next Steps

It is envisaged that further technical and feasibility work will be underway to assess the suitability of the areas of search as identified by the report along with a process of iterative Masterplanning and consultation with local residents.

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Is the NPPF Trying to Nationalise the Sale of Land?

 

 

The draft NPPF was published in March 2018 and stated at Paragraph 34 that “plans should set out the contributions expected in association with particular sites and types of development. This should include setting out the levels and types of affordable housing provision required, along with other infrastructure (such as that needed for education, health, transport, green and digital infrastructure). Such policies should not make development unviable, and should be supported by evidence to demonstrate this. Plans should also set out any circumstances in which further viability assessment may be required in determining individual applications”

Paragraph 57 then went on the state that “planning obligations should only be sought where they meet all of the following tests: a) necessary to make the development acceptable in planning terms; b) directly related to the development; and c) fairly and reasonably related in scale and kind to the development.”

The HBF have argued that Paragraph 34 was not consistent with paragraph 57 in that it moved away from the rules set out in paragraph 57 (and the tests set out in Regulation 122 of the Community Infrastructure Levy Regulations 2010) into the realms of value capture.

The revised 2018 Framework which was published on 24th July 2018 has been revised to state at paragraph 57: “Where up-to-date policies have set out the contributions expected from development, planning applications that comply with them should be assumed to be viable. It is up to the applicant to demonstrate whether particular circumstances justify the need for a viability assessment at the application stage”.

Viability has moved from a standalone matter to a key consideration within planning decisions in both policy and development management. This significant shift now requires viability to be dealt with at the plan making stage, thus shifting responsibility on LPAs as opposed to developers. Essentially, LPAs will now be required to set strategic site allocations, infrastructure requirements and a minimum level of affordable housing which they consider viable.

Viability in short is the difference between the price paid for a site compared to the costs of building a development. A development scheme is only viable if, after taking into account all development costs into account including site value, the scheme provides a competitive return so that a scheme can be implemented and the land value is sufficient to incentivise a landowner to sell.

Components of Viability

I’m no surveyor but my simple mind understands that viability comprises:

  1. Value of land
  2. Development costs
  3. Return to Developer

1.Land Value

The starting point to assessing viability is to establish the benchmark land value. The Benchmark Land Value is made up of the Existing Use Value with a premium to the landowner which should reflect the minimum price at which a landowner would be willing to sell their land.

The price at which a landowner would be willing to sell their land can be subjective as an individual may wantmore than the actual value of a site. Where a local authority may be under pressure to deliver sites and their preferred sites undeveloped by landowners not wishing to sell as depressed values, sites may be granted permission either by either LPA or on appeal. As the HBF rightly point out this will not result in homes being developed faster or more sustainably.

Existing Use Value (EUV) is defined as the value of the land in its existing use together with the right to implement any development for which there are extant planning consents, including realistic deemed consents, but without regard to other possible uses that require planning consent, technical consent or unrealistic permitted development

EUV can be established by assessing the value of the specific site or type of site using a range of sources of information. The NPPG advises that:

“Determining the existing use value of the land should be based on the assumption that no future planning consents will be obtained, but including the value of any consented use”.

The NPPG requires Benchmark Land Value to:

  • Fully reflect the total cost of all relevant policy requirements including S106 and CIL
  • Include abnormal costs, site specific infrastructure costs and professional site fees
  • Allow for a premium to landowners (including equity resulting from those building their own homes); and
  • Be informed by comparable market evidence of current uses, costs and values wherever possible. Where recent market transactions are used to inform assessment of benchmark land value there should be evidence that these transactions were based on policy compliant development. This is so that previous prices based on non-policy compliant developments are not used to inflate values over time.

The Benchmark Land Value would be established through engagement with plan makers, landowners, developers, infrastructure and affordable housing providers. Whilst engagement makes sense, it is not clear who would intervene if parties disagree on what the Benchmark Land Value should be.

A premium to the landowner above the Existing Use Value would be determined by plan makers in consultation with developers and landowners and a minimum premium can be established by looking at comparable sites which would establish the price paid having regard to outliers in market transactions, the quality of land, expectations of local landowners and different site scales.

2. Development Costs

Costs are defined as follows:

  • Build costs based on appropriate data, for example that of the Building Cost Information Service;
  • Abnormal costs, including those associated with treatment for contaminated sites or listed buildings, or costs associated with brownfield, phased or complex sites. These costs should be taken into account when defining benchmark land value;
  • Site-specific infrastructure costs, which might include access roads, sustainable drainage systems, green infrastructure, connection to utilities and decentralised energy. These costs should be taken into account when defining benchmark land value;
  • The total cost of all relevant policy requirements including contributions towards affordable housing and infrastructure, Community Infrastructure Levy charges, and any other relevant policies or standards. These costs should be taken into account when defining benchmark land value;
  • General finance costs including those incurred through loans;
  • Professional Fees, project management, sales, marketing and legal costs incorporating organisational overheads. Any professional site fees should also be taken into account when defining benchmark land value; and
  • Explicit reference to project contingency costs should be included in circumstances where scheme specific assessment is deemed necessary, with a justification for contingency relative to project risk and developers return.

 The NPPG requires as far as possible for costs to be included at the plan making stage

3. Return to Developers

A return to developers is assumed at 20% of Gross Development Value or 6% in consideration of affordable housing. The NPPG advises that Plan makers may choose to apply alternative figures where there is evidence to support a different figure according to the type and scale of development.

Gross Development Value is defined as total sales and/or capitalised net rental income. These can be calculated using market evidence from the site itself or from comparable existing developments and adjusted to suit the site circumstances.

The HBF argue that The proposal to include just 20% of gross development value as a suitable return to a developer (with a lower figure of just 6% on the delivery of affordable housing) will not be appropriate in all circumstances or for all types of developer. While the guidance on viability acknowledges this fact it gives no guidance on when deviation from this standard approach would be necessary. It is also unclear from the guidance as to whether the application of “alternative figures” might result in a lower return to a developer as well as a higher one.

Transparency & Commercially Sensitive Information

The NPPG sets out in detail the approach to be taken to ensure accountability of assessments, and that assessments should be prepared and published in such a way to aide and support decision makers. The NPPG requires the preparation of a summary report using a standard template currently being created by CLG.

Assessments should be drafted on the basis that they will be made publicly available other than in exceptional circumstances. This aligns with the London Mayor’s approach that assessments would be made public where a developer would not commit to providing 50% affordable housing on public land, and 35% on private land.

The HBF would agree with the NPPF at paragraph 58 which suggests that where a site cannot support a policy compliant application (for site specific reasons) then a viability assessment should still, in exceptional circumstances, be submitted. However, there would still be elements of such appraisals that are commercially sensitive and have suggested that applicants should be allowed to agree with local planning authorities where this is the case and why and agree that this limited information is redacted.

The HBF also believes that there should be a clear transition period to move towards this radical new approach of development viability. Many sites and projects will be considerably advanced towards development using the current assumptions and methodology of site by site negotiation. An overnight change to this regime will threaten many sites in terms of meeting agreed minimum land values. A transition period of at least five years is considered appropriate.

All in all, the proposed change to viability assessments could well result in a slow down with less homes being delivered faster and in a sustainable manner.

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Latest GDPO amendments to Agricultural Permitted Development Rights

 

On Monday 5th March 2018, the Housing Minister, Dominic Raab announced changes to Permitted Development Rights which enable flexibility for rural sites to be converted from three to up to five family homes (Class Use C3) to better meet local housing need without the need to apply for Planning Permission.  You can read his statement here.

Amendments to the General Permitted Development Order (GDPO) were approved by Parliament on 12th March 2018 and have come into force today, 6th April 2018.

The amendments allow buildings which currently are/were in ‘active agricultural use’ on or before 20th March 2013 to be redeveloped for up to 5 dwellings. This will allow for the following:

  • Up to 3 larger homes within a maximum of 465 sq. m. (5005.2sqf)
  • Up to 5 smaller homes, each no larger than 100 sq. m. (1076.4sqf)
  • Combination of both above options – no more than 5 homes (no more than 3 being larger homes).

The permitted floor area has marginally increased from 450 sqm (4,843 sqft) to 465sqm (5005.2sqf). As set out above, the provisions can be combined to provide up to 5 dwellings per agricultural unit subject to the floor space limitations, with no more than 3 dwellings as larger dwellings.

Permitted Development Rights are subject to obtaining approval from the LPA first. This means that you must notify the relevant LPA and submit a prior approval application before starting any work. If the Council do not issue a decision within the time frame of 56 days, then development can begin.

Restrictions
It must be noted that permitted development rights are generally more restricted in the following designated areas:

  • Conservation Area
  • National Park
  • Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty or
  • The Norfolk or Suffolk Broads

Criteria
The following criteria will need to be met before a development can be considered as permitted development:

  • Buildings must have been used solely for agricultural use on or before 20 March 2013.
  • The new rights are not afforded to those who have used PD rights to build or extend buildings since 20 March 2013.

Please note that once the new PD rights have been exercised, there will be no opportunity to construct or extend an agricultural building for a period of 10 years.

Urbanissta welcome these amendments to the legislation, though its not a silver bullet, are hopeful that these changes will boost the number of homes created through the conversions of agricultural buildings which will assist in meeting local housing needs across the country.

The explanatory memorandum can be read here.

The amendments to the Legislation can be read here.

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The London Plan- In case you Missed it

 

The London Plan is the strategic planning policy document for all London Boroughs and forms part of the statutory development plan for each authority. It sets the strategic housing requirement for the whole of the metropolitan area and how this will be delivered as well as setting the strategic approach to other matters such as economy, design, heritage open space and landscaping and technical details such as renewable energy and drainage.

The current version of the London Plan was first adopted in 2011 with changes made during the course of 2015 and 2016.

The new London Plan or ‘Replacement Plan’ as it is also known was published for consultation in December 2017. This revised plan sees a step change in approach to planning decisions as it goes much further than being an overarching strategic planning document. Upon its anticipated adoption in 2019, it will come into effect straight away and the way in which it written means that authorities would not need to prepare a Part 1 Local Plan.

Whilst the Mayor is seeking to take some of the control of the function of the Boroughs, it doesn’t look to take all of them including the duty to co-operate. As the HBF wrote in their representations, the Mayor cannot pick and chose which functions they want to perform. The Mayor also proposes to set a metropolitan wide level for affordable housing at 50%
The Replacement Plan will run from 2019 to 2041 and sets a requirement of 64,935 dwellings over the first 10-year period. The capacity is made up of 400,470 homes from large sites and 245,730 homes over the 10 year period from small sites of less than 0.25 ha.

There is also reliance on increasing the number of units on those opportunity areas identified in the current London Plan and identifies approximately 9 new Opportunity Areas.

Development at Kings Cross Opportunity Area

Current and emerging Opportunity Areas. London Plan SHLAA 2017

There is a heavy reliance on brownfield land and optimising potential on:

  • Sites of PTAL 3-6
  • Mixed use redevelopment of car parks and low density retail parks
  • Intensification of residential on commercial leisure and infrastructure sites
  • Redevelopment of surplus sites
  • Small sites
  • Industrial sites
  • Sites that are allocated for residential and mixed-use development

There is also a general presumption against single use low-density retail and leisure parks.

Green Belt
The plan identifies that all the dwellings proposed can be provided within the City without extending out into the Green Belt. Policy G2 London’s Green Belt states that:
A The Green Belt should be protected from inappropriate development:
1) development proposals that would harm the Green Belt should be refused
2) the enhancement of the Green Belt to provide appropriate multifunctional uses for Londoners should be supported.
B The extension of the Green Belt will be supported, where appropriate. It’ s de-designation will not.

Given that 800,000 people commute between the City and the wider South East on a daily basis, it is questionable as to whether 65,000 dwellings can be delivered within the boundary of London. Nevertheless, the approach to Green Belt reviews should be undertaken by local authorities within their Part 1 Plans.

Commuting Patterns across London and wider region. London Plan 2017

The Plan Identifies 12 infrastructure priorities that the mayor will support within the Wider South East as they are of importance to the city. These include:

  1. East West Rail and new Expressway road link (Oxford – Cambridge)
  2. North Down Rail Link (Gatwick – Reading) including extension to Oxford
  3. A27 / M27 / A259 and rail corridor (Dover – Southampton)
  4. West Anglia Mainline, Crossrail 2 North (London – Stansted – Cambridge -Peterborough) and M11
  5. Great Eastern Mainline (London – Ipswich – Norwich) and A12
  6. Essex Thameside, A217 and A13 corridor
  7. Thames Gateway Kent : Elizabeth Line Extension and HS1 (London – North Kent -Channel Tunnel)
  8.  Lower Thames Crossing
  9. Brighton Mainline (London – Gatwick – Brighton)
  10. South West Mainline, Crossrail 2 South West (London – Surrey / Southern Rail Access to Heathrow) and A3
  11. Great Western Mainline (London – Reading / Western Rail Access to Heathrow)
  12. Midlands and West Coast Mainline (London – Luton – Bedford / Milton Keynes)
  13. Felixstowe – Nuneaton / Midlands and A14


Density
There has been a lot of discussion regarding the removal of the density matrix within Policy DM6 of the Replacement Plan in favour of higher densities across all sites. Policy DM6 requires the submission of a Management Plan where density is exceeded in the following cases:

  1. 110 units per hectare in areas of PTAL 0 to 1
  2. 240 units per hectare in areas of PTAL 2 to 3;
  3. 405 units per hectare in areas of PTAL 4 to 6

All of these units per hectare standards are those applied to central locations suggesting that a higher density approach to new developments will be the normal approach. A high-density scheme in a suburban location may not be appropriate.

The Policy also requires that
“measures of density should be provided for all planning applications that include new residential units:

  1. Number of units per hectare
  2. Number of habitable rooms per hectare
  3. Number or bedrooms per hectare
  4. Number of bedspaces per hectare.”

So, the density matrix whilst not there will still clearly play a part in the decision-making process for authorities.

Tall Buildings

Policy D8 states that the definition of a Tall building can be made by each local authority, again suggesting the approach to higher density development wherever possible. A tall building is still referable to the GLA if it exceeds 30m.

Design
Policy D2 requires design reviews to be undertaken at least once in addition to pre-application advice if they are:
– Above the density indicated in Policy D6
– Propose a building defined as tall building or that is more than 30m in height where there is no local tall building definition.

The approach to design should be taken by each authority within their Part 1 Plans. The approach to tall building design reviews is not helpful when read with Policy DM8.
Within Policy D3 inclusive design is promoted but no clarification is provided as to the threshold for inclusive design.

Regeneration
The Replacement Plan states that Boroughs should identify Strategic Areas for Regeneration in Local Plans based on a thorough understanding of the demographics of communities and their needs.

Affordable Workspace
The Replacement Plan emphasises the need to provide affordable workspace and low cost business space through Policy E3 Affordable Workspace

Basement Development
A Policy is now included on the need to assess large scale basement development along with a Policy also stating that any applications for fracking should be refused.

Public Houses
More protection for pubs is now included along with a policy requiring the provision of public toilets in proposals that involve people standing for long periods of time.

Overheating
There is now clear guidance on how to deal with managing heat risks, requiring an assessment of overheating through CIBSE TM59 for domestic developments and TM 52 for non-domestic developments. In addition, TM 49 guidance and datasets should also be used to ensure that all new development is designed for the climate it will experience over its design life. The

Air Quality
Whilst air quality is addressed in reference to other policies in the current London Plan, air quality requirements are addressed as a standalone policy in the Replacement Plan, requiring development to not lead to further deterioration of existing poor air quality, or create areas that exceed air quality limits.

Drainage
The Replacement Plan sets a Policy aim for development to achieve greenfield run off rates as the starting point. Development proposals for impermeable paving should be refused where appropriate, including on small surfaces such as front gardens and driveways.

Car Parking
Car-free development should be the starting point for all development proposals in places that are (or are planned to be) well-connected by public transport, with developments elsewhere designed to provide the minimum necessary parking (‘car-lite’) with maximum standards.

Those proposals with parking included need to include electric vehicle charging points.

Strategic Approach to Transport

The Replacement Plan sets out a significant list of transport infrastructure projects proposed to deliver the strategic target of 80% of all trips in London to be made by foot, cycle or public transport by 2041 and authorities in preparing development plans would need to support these projects. Such projects include the Silvertown Tunnel, Crossrail 2 and the provision of a new bridge linking south to east at Rotherhithe and Canary Wharf.

Next Steps
The Examination in Public will take place in the Autumn of 2019 with the adoption of the final London Plan in the Autumn of 2019.

 

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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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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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