The Housing White Paper 2017 – Part: 2

 

Building homes faster!

We are revisiting the Housing White Paper that was presented to Parliament on the 7th February 2017.

Stepping into the front door once more, looking at the 2nd proposal listed in the document.

But first, we are going to hurdle the shoes at that front door… Where people were very quick to put the boot in the White Paper!

“We were promised a white paper but got a white flag!” Harsh words from the Shadow Secretary of State for Housing – John Healey.

More interesting comments and headlines to follow…

You may be asking yourselves, how will the housing white paper affect you or those around you? Here is some basic information to fast track you to the answers – with more details further on in this article.

  • I want to downsize – there was no mention about cutting stamp duty or providing other incentives for last-time movers to help free up family homes
  • I want to buy my first home – there wasn’t a lot of news for first-time buyers, the government just reiterated what it’s already doing. In the shape of ‘Help to Buy’ equity loans, Isas, shared ownership and ‘Rent to Buy’ schemes
  • I’m a renter – more than four million households rent their home from a private landlord, nearly twice as many as 10 years ago, according to the housing white paper. Some of these households have to put up with below standard accommodation, but things are improving the government suggests
  • I’m a landlord – landlords have been on the government’s radar for several years and there appears to be no let-up in the white paper. Already having to contend with tax relief reductions and stamp duty rises, landlords may soon have to add extra layers of red tape to their list of woes
  • I’m a leaseholder – the government also announced in the white paper that it will act to promote fairness and transparency for the growing number of leaseholders, claiming there are currently around four million leasehold homes in England

Part: 2  The review of the Housing White Paper 2017 – Building homes faster

The Government will be:

A – Providing greater certainty for authorities that have planned for new homes and reducing the scope for local and neighbourhood plans to be undermined by changing the way that land supply for housing is assessed:

  • Amend the National Planning Policy Framework to give local authorities the opportunity to have their housing land supply agreed on an annual basis, and fixed for a one- year period
  • Where communities plan for housing through a neighbourhood plan, these plans should not be deemed out-of-date unless there is a significant lack of land supply for housing in the wider local authority area

B – Boosting local authority capacity and capability to deliver, improving the speed and quality with which planning cases are handled, while deterring unnecessary appeals:

  • Increase nationally set planning fees. Local authorities will be able to increase fees by 20% from July 2017
  • Make available £25m of new funding to help ambitious authorities in areas
    of high housing need to plan for new homes and infrastructure
  • Consult on introducing a fee for making a planning appeal

C – Ensuring infrastructure is provided in the right place at the right time by coordinating government investment and through the targeting of the £2.3bn Housing Infrastructure Fund:

  • Target the £2.3bn Housing Infrastructure Fund at the areas of greatest housing need

D – Securing timely connections to utilities so that this does not hold up getting homes built:

  • amend national policy so that local planning authorities are expected to identify the development opportunities that such investment offers at the time funding is committed
  • consulting on requiring local authorities to have planning policies setting out how high quality digital infrastructure will be delivered in their area
  • In assessing bids for these trials from local authorities, take account of which areas can demonstrate that they have policies setting out how high quality digital infrastructure will be delivered in their area
  • Work together across the government

Government will review what more we could do to ensure that utilities planning and delivery keeps pace with house building and supports development across the country:

  • Government will closely monitor performance to ensure house building is not being delayed and, if necessary, will consider obligating utility companies to take account of proposed development

E – Supporting developers to build out more quickly by tackling unnecessary delays caused by planning conditions, facilitating the strategic licensing of protected species and exploring a new approach to how developers contribute to infrastructure:

  • tackle unnecessary delays caused by planning conditions by taking forward proposals, through the Neighbourhood Planning Bill, to allow the Secretary of State to prohibit conditions that do not meet the national policy tests, and to ensure that pre-commencement conditions can only be used with the agreement of the applicant. A new deemed discharge mechanism for planning conditions was introduced in 2015 and we are keen to hear more from developers, local authorities and other interested parties about how this is working and if we can streamline the process further
  • The government will roll out this approach to help other local authorities speed up the delivery of housing and other development
  • The government will examine the options for reforming the system of developer contributions including ensuring direct benefit for communities, and will respond to the independent review and make an announcement at the Autumn Budget 2017
  • Woking Borough Council and Natural England have piloted a new strategic approach to streamline licencing which focuses conservation where it will bring maximum benefits to great crested newts

F – Taking steps to address skills shortages by growing the construction workforce:

  • Launch a new route into construction in September 2019
  • Work across government, with the Construction Leadership Council
  • Explore whether this successful approach can be applied more broadly in the construction sector

G – Holding developers to account for the delivery of new homes through better and more transparent data and sharper tools to drive up delivery:

  • Holding local authorities to account through a new housing delivery test
  • Require more information to be provided about the timing and pace of delivery of new housing
  • The Department for Communities and Local Government will increase the transparency and quality of data
  • Subject to further consultation, large housebuilders may be required to publish aggregate information on build out rates
  • Amend national planning policy to encourage local authorities to consider how realistic it is that a site will be developed, when deciding whether to grant planning permission for housing development, on sites where previous permissions have not been implemented
  • Seeking views on whether an applicant’s track record of delivering previous, similar housing schemes should be taken into account by local authorities when determining planning applications for housing development
  • Considering the implications of amending national planning policy to encourage local authorities to shorten the timescales for developers to implement a permission for housing development from the default period of three years to two years, except where a shorter timescale could hinder the viability or deliverability of a scheme. We would particularly welcome views on what such a change would mean for SME developers
  • Simplify and speed up the completion notice process
  • Prepare new guidance to local planning authorities following separate consultation, encouraging the use of their compulsory purchase powers to support the build out of stalled sites
  • Keep compulsory purchase under review and welcome any representations for how it can be reformed further to support development
  • A new housing delivery test to ensure that local authorities and wider interests are held accountable for their role in ensuring new homes are delivered in their area
  • From November 2017, if delivery of housing falls below 95% of the authority’s annual housing requirement, we propose that the local authority should publish an action plan
  • From November 2017, if delivery of housing falls below 85% of the housing requirement, authorities would in addition be expected to plan for a 20% buffer on their five-year land supply
  • From November 2018, if delivery of housing falls below 25% of the housing requirement, the presumption in favour of sustainable development in the National Planning Policy Framework would apply automatically
  • From November 2019, if delivery falls below 45% the presumption would apply
  • From November 2020, if delivery falls below 65% the presumption would apply
  • Monitor the situation closely, and will not hesitate to take further action if required

Part: 2 – Proposals

NPPF Amendments & Applications

  • To give local authorities the opportunity to have their housing land supply agreed on an annual basis, and axed for a one-year period
  • LPAs who wish to take advantage of this policy will need to provide for a 10% buffer on their 5 year land supply A new housing delivery test through changes to the National Planning Policy Framework and associated guidance

Consultation

  • Consulting on requiring local authorities to have planning policies setting out how high quality digital infrastructure will be delivered in their area, and accessible from a range of providers

Information Collation & Analysis

  • Further to improve the quality and analysis of information on housing delivery
    • Better information on delivery
    • Better information on build out rates by builders
    • Better information on the development pipeline
  • We propose to put in place a duty on developers to provide local authorities
    with basic information (in terms of actual and projected build out) on progress in delivering the permitted number of homes, after planning permission has been granted
  • New requirements for the Authority Monitoring Report (AMR) produced by local planning authorities
  • Measure housing delivery using net annual housing additions
  • Rate of housing delivery in each area would be assessed as the average over a three-year rolling period
  • Support authorities experiencing significant under-delivery in addressing the challenges identified in their action plans

Regulation & Legislation

  • Amend  legislation to remove the requirement for the Secretary of State to confirm a completion notice before it can take effect
  • Amend legislation, subject to consultation, to allow a local authority to serve a completion notice on a site before the commencement deadline has elapsed, but only where works have begun
  • The government proposes a tiered approach to addressing the situation that would be set out in national policy and guidance

What are your thoughts? Have your say…

The consultation will begin on 7th February 2017. The consultation will run for 12 weeks and will close on 2 May 2017. All responses should be received by no later than 23:45 on 2 May 2017.

This consultation is open to everyone. The government are keen to hear from a wide range of interested parties from across the public and private sectors, as well as from the general public.

During the consultation, if you have any enquiries, please contact: planningpolicyconsultation@communities.gsi.gov.uk

You may respond by completing an online survey here 

Alternatively you can email your response to the questions in this consultation to: planningpolicyconsultation@communities.gsi.gov.uk

If you are responding in writing, please make it clear which questions you are responding to. Written responses should be sent to: Planning Policy Consultation Team Department for Communities and Local Government Third Floor, South East Fry Building 2 Marsham Street SW1P 4DF

When you reply it would be very useful if you confirm whether you are replying as an individual or submitting an official response on behalf of an organisation and include:

  • Your name
  • Your position (if applicable)
  • The name of organisation (if applicable)
  • An address (including post-code)
  • An email address
  • A contact telephone number

Consultation questions for Part: 2  

Question 16

Do you agree that:

  1. Where local planning authorities wish to agree their housing land supply for a one- year period, national policy should require those authorities to maintain a 10% buffer on their 5 year housing land supply?
  2. The Planning Inspectorate should consider and agree an authority’s assessment of its housing supply for the purpose of this policy?
  3. If so, should the Inspectorate’s consideration focus on whether the approach pursued by the authority in establishing the land supply position is robust, or should the Inspectorate make and assessment of the supply figure?

Question 17

In taking forward the protection for neighbourhood plans as set out in the Written Ministerial Statement of 12 December 2016 into the revised NPPF, do you agree that it should include the following amendments:

  1. A requirement for the neighbourhood plan to meet its share of local housing need?
  2. That it is subject to the local planning authority being able to demonstrate through the housing delivery test that, from 2020, delivery has been over 65% (25% in 2018; 45% in 2019) for the wider authority area?
  3. Should it remain a requirement to have site allocations in the plan or should the protection apply as long as housing supply policies will meet their share of local housing need?

Question 18

What are your views on the merits of introducing a fee for making a planning appeal? We would welcome views on:

  1. How the fee could be designed in such a way that it did not discourage developers, particularly smaller and medium sized rms, from bringing forward legitimate appeals.
  2. The level of the fee and whether it could be refunded in certain circumstances, such as when an appeal is successful.
  3. Whether there could be lower fees for less complex cases.

Question 19

Do you agree with the proposal to amend national policy so that local planning authorities are expected to have planning policies setting out how high quality digital infrastructure will be delivered in their area, and accessible from a range of providers?

Question 20

Do you agree with the proposals to amend national policy so that:

  • The status of endorsed recommendations of the National Infrastructure Commission is made clear?
  • Authorities are expected to identify the additional development opportunities which strategic infrastructure improvements offer for making additional land available for housing?

Question 21

Do you agree that:

  1. The planning application form should be amended to include a request for the estimated start date and build out rate for proposals for housing?
  2. That developers should be required to provide local authorities with basic information (in terms of actual and projected build out) on progress in delivering the permitted number of homes, after planning permission has been granted?
  3. The basic information (above) should be published as part of Authority Monitoring Reports?
  4. That large house builders should be required to provide aggregate information on build out rates?

Question 22

Do you agree that the realistic prospect that housing will be built on a site should be taken into account in the determination of planning applications for housing on sites where there is evidence of non-implementation of earlier permissions for housing development?

Question 23

We would welcome views on whether an applicant’s track record of delivering previous, similar housing schemes should be taken into account by local authorities when determining planning applications for housing development.

Question 24

If this proposal were taken forward, do you agree that the track record of an applicant should
only be taken into account when considering proposals for large scale sites, so as not to deter new entrants to the market?

Question 25

What are your views on whether local authorities should be encouraged to shorten the timescales for developers to implement permission for housing development from three years to two years, except where a shorter timescale could hinder the viability or deliverability of a scheme? We would particularly welcome views on what such a change would mean for SME developers

Question 26

Do you agree with the proposals to amend legislation to simplify and speed up the process of serving a completion notice by removing the requirement for the Secretary of State to con rm a completion notice before it can take effect?

Question 27

What are your views on whether we should allow local authorities to serve a completion notice on a site before the commencement deadline has elapsed, but only where works have begun? What impact do you think this will have on lenders’ willingness to lend to developers?

Question 28

Do you agree that for the purposes of introducing a housing delivery test, national guidance should make clear that:

  1. The baseline for assessing housing delivery should be a local planning authority’s annual housing requirement where this is set out in an up-to-date plan?
  2. The baseline where no local plan is in place should be the published household projections until 2018/19, with the new standard methodology for assessing housing requirements providing the baseline thereafter?
  3. Net annual housing additions should be used to measure housing delivery?
  4. Delivery will be assessed over a rolling three year period, starting with 2014/15 – 2016/17?

Question 29

Do you agree that the consequences for under- delivery should be:

  1. From November 2017, an expectation that local planning authorities prepare an action plan where delivery falls below 95% of the authority’s annual housing requirement?
  2. From November 2017, a 20% buffer on top of the requirement to maintain a five year housing land supply where delivery falls below 85%?
  3. From November 2018, application of the presumption in favour of sustainable development where delivery falls below 25%?
  4. From November 2019, application of the presumption in favour of sustainable development where delivery falls below 45%?
  5. From November 2020, application of the presumption in favour of sustainable development where delivery falls below 65%?

Question 30

What support would be most helpful to local planning authorities in increasing housing delivery in their areas?

In the papers today…

Housing white paper an ‘encouraging signal’ (read more)

Housing white paper makes more questions than answers (read more)

Tomorrow we will return to Part: 3 of our review of the Housing White Paper 2017…

The third proposal – ‘Diversifying the market’.

Read the full Housing White Paper 2017 here.

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