Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick announced a package of new planning reforms yesterday aimed at speeding up the delivery of new homes.
Jenrick announced the plans in Parliament after his reforms were mentioned in the Chancellor’s Budget on Wednesday. His aims are to increase the supply of housing stock and deliver homes that comply with local design standards.
As the secretary of state delivered his speech, the Ministry of Housing Communities and Local Government published an 11-page document entitled Planning for the Future, setting out a roadmap for planning reforms to boost housing delivery in the next 12 months and beyond. The key policies are a mix of previously announced and new plans.
New permitted development rights for building upwards on existing buildings (airspace development) will be introduced by summer 2020. Additionally, consultations will be held on permitted development rights to allow vacant buildings to be demolished and replaced with new homes.
New support will be offered for community and self-build housing schemes, including help to find plots of land. A new spatial framework for the area will support the Oxford-Cambridge arc, stipulating where housing will be built up to 2050 and resulting in the creation of four development corporations across the region.
Housing delivery test
The formula for calculating local housing need will be reviewed to encourage more building in urban areas. Consequently, all local authorities will be required to produce an up-to-date plan by 2023 or government will intervene.
Plans to increase the Housing Delivery Test threshold to 75% in November 2020 will continue. Similarly, the New Homes Bonus will be reformed to ensure local authorities that build more homes will have access to greater funding.
A new planning fee structure will be introduced to improve resources for planning authorities and link funding to enhanced performance. Fees will be refunded automatically in the case of planning applications that are appealed successfully.
The use of zoning tools will be expanded to support development aimed at simplifying the process of granting planning permission for residential and commercial property. The requirement to provide greater transparency in respect of land options will create more clarity regarding land ownership.
Local authorities will be supported in the use of compulsory purchase orders with the introduction of statutory timescales for decisions and the ending of the automatic right to public inquiry.
The proposed First Homes scheme, which will offer eligible first-time buyers new homes at prices discounted by one third is set to continue. Accordingly, developers and local authorities will be encouraged to form partnerships to be front-runners in delivering the first tranche of new homes.
The Affordable Homes Programme will be extended with a new, multi-year settlement of £12 billion. In addition, more than £1 billion will be allocated from the Housing Infrastructure Fund to build around 70,000 new homes in areas of high demand across the UK. £650 million of funding will help rough sleepers move to permanent accommodation.
The National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) will be revised to encourage the use of good design during the planning process to create attractive communities. Furthermore, there will be a response to the Building Better, Building Beautiful Commission calling for the implementation of urban tree planting and giving communities more input into design.
Climate and sustainability
First of all, the policy for building in areas at risk of flooding will be reviewed to assess whether current NPPF protections are sufficient or whether further reform is required.
The Future Homes Standard, which will require new homes to have a maximum of 80% lower carbon emissions, will be introduced in 2025. Following on from this, a new net-zero-carbon housing development will be created through a corporation in Toton in the East Midlands.