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Government Releases New Housing White Paper

The Government has published the Housing White Paper “Fixing our broken housing market”. The emphasis of the Housing White Paper is the delivery of new homes.

The paper is divided into four sections, which cover:

Planning for the right homes in the right places

Key updates:

  • Every local authority in the country will be required to have an up to date development plan.

  • To assist local authorities with the plans, they will make the process simpler and easier.

  • Planning policy will be amended to ensure that low-density development is avoided in areas where there is a shortage of land. In a further bid to increase supply, the government will promote high-density sites in areas well served by public transport.

  • Local authorities must now place “great weight” on the value of development on brownfield land in their administrative areas.

  • The Government will improve access to data about land ownership, in particular details of option arrangements and restrictive covenants used to control land.

The Government have confirmed that green belt land will be protected, with rules to ensure that its boundaries are changed only when Authorities can demonstrate they have ‘examined fully all reasonable options’.

Building homes faster

The Government is concerned that the pace of housebuilding in Britain is too slow. Significant delays occur between plans being developed, permissions being granted and finally new homes being built. To remedy this they propose:

  • Amending the National Planning Policy Framework to give local authorities the opportunity to have their housing land supply agreed on an annual basis. Local authorities used to have to show a five year housing supply which led to expensive appeals and delays.

  • Developers will be granted automatic planning permission on sustainable schemes they bring forward if local authorities are below 25% of their housing target. This proportion will increase to 45% in 2019 and 65% in 2020.

  • From July, local authorities will be able to increase planning fees by 20% if they agree to invest the extra money into their planning departments.

  • The government is preparing guidance to encourage local authorities to use compulsory purchase powers to seize “stalled” sites from developers and then auction off the land to others. The proceeds from the auction will then be paid back to the original developer.

Diversifying the house building market

The Government considers that the existing operation of the house building market is constraining supply due to the lack of competition and innovation. Its answer is to diversify the market to increase numbers of houses, quality and choice. To do this they will:

  • Encourage smaller property developers to take on a bigger share of the market by providing more funding. The government has earmarked £1 billion of the £3 billion Home Building Fund to smaller builders.

  • Use the NPPF to encourage build to rent where there is a need to do so, with a view to attracting institutional investment, as well as the promotion of ‘family friendly’ 3 year tenancies.

  • Adopt innovative and efficient methods of construction to modernise the house building sector.

Helping people now

The white paper acknowledges that it will take time for the aforementioned changes to be implemented. To help people find a home now, the Government will:

  • Continue to support people in buying a house via the Help to Buy and Starter Homes initiatives.It will invest in affordable housing via the Affordable Housing Programme.

  • Allow a lifetime ISA, providing 25% bonus on up to £4,000 of savings a year. This is intended to help young people save to buy their first home.

  • Ensuring that local authorities provide a number of ‘starter homes’. This will be included in the NPPF.

  • Putting new measures in place to support tenants including the banning of letting agents fees, enforcing banning order on rogue landlords and a general commitment tackling ‘unfair and unreasonable abuses of leasehold’.

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