Posts with tag: house building

Government’s New Planning Rulebook to Deliver More Quality, Well-Designed Homes

Published On: July 26, 2018 at 10:00 am


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Secretary of State Rt Hon James Brokenshire MP has published new planning rules this week. They state the necessity of building attractive and better-designed homes in areas where they are needed.

The revised National Planning Policy Framework aims to make it easier for councils to take a stand against poor quality and unattractive developments, as well as providing communities the ability to voice their own opinions about how developments should look and feel.

The Prime Minister launched a public consultation earlier this year, which provided a comprehensive approach for planners, developers and councils to increase the amount of homes being built and at a faster speed. It also focused on looking at where people actually want to live.

This revised framework will focus on:

  • promotion of higher quality designs for new homes and places
  • stronger protection for the environment
  • making sure that the right number of homes are being built in the right places
  • councils and developers receiving greater responsibility and accountability for housing delivery

Secretary of State for Communities, Rt Hon James Brokenshire MP said: “Fundamental to building the homes our country needs is ensuring that our planning system is fit for the future.

“This revised planning framework sets out our vision of a planning system that delivers the homes we need. I am clear that quantity must never compromise the quality of what is built, and this is reflected in the new rules.

“We have listened to the tens of thousands of people who told us their views, making this a shared strategy for development in England.”

We have had a regular reminder that the Government is continuing with its target to achieve 300,000 new homes a year. There were 217,000 homes built last year, which was the biggest increase in housing supply in almost ten years.

Promoting high quality design of new homes and places

The framework aims to ensure that councils have the confidence and tools to deny permission for development if it does not prioritise design quality and fails to complement the surroundings.

Whilst there is a concentration on driving up the quality of new builds, councils will also remain in charge of applying such policies in the most relevant way in relation to the area.

In order to maximise the usage of land, the Government aims to provide the councils with more confidence to make refusals to applications that don’t provide enough homes.

Stronger protection for the environment

There have been updates made to the new framework, which provide further protection for biodiversity. The importance of ensuring that wildlife thrives, whilst also addressing the need for new homes has been pinpointed.

The planning system is due to align more closely with Defra’s 25 Year Environment Plan. This aims to improve the environment so that we are leaving it in a more prosperous state for future generations. There should be more protection for habitats, and the issue of air quality needs greater focus when development proposals are being considered.

The revised framework plans to ensure that all other reasonable options for development are exhausted before looking to alter a Green Belt boundary. The protection of ancient woodland and trees throughout England should be strengthened, in order for it to continue to thrive for further generations.

The Government has specified its intention to protect the Green Belt in England, explaining the high expectations and considerable evidence that would be required in order for any alterations to be authorised.

Building the right number of homes in the right places

There will be a new way for councils to calculate the housing needs of their local community, in order to tackle the issue of unaffordable house prices throughout the country. This will include the consideration of different forms of housing, such as retirement homes.

Overall, there is an aim to build more homes in the areas that are most in need, based on the affordability of existing homes for those on a lower or medium income.

Councils are introducing a Housing Delivery Test from November 2018. It will focus on increasing the amount of homes that are actually built in an area, rather than simply the amount planned to be delivered.

Clearer guidance for both developers and councils has also been published, in order to make sure that the necessary infrastructure and affordable housing is delivered to support communities. Developers will now know what is expected from them up front, even before the submission of planning applications. Councils will have greater control over holding them to these commitments.

Further information

During the consultation, the Government held ten regional engagement events and approximately 40 individual meetings. This consultation received 29,224 responses, including over 25,000 to the campaign itself.


House Building Industry Prospering, with 74% Increase to Building Activity

Published On: July 26, 2018 at 9:27 am


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Planning and development consultancy Lichfields has released a new report, showing that the house building industry in England and Wales is now worth £38 billion a year. The research also shows that almost 700,000 jobs are supported by the industry.

Over the past four years, the UK economy has seen a massive boost, as house building activity has increased by 74%.

Overall, the report has also revealed the following about the house building industry last year:

  • £2.7 billion has been generated in tax revenues (via Stamp Duty Land tax, Corporation tax, National Insurance etc.)
  • £841m has been provided towards infrastructure, including £122m for new/improved schools)
  • 90% of the £11.7 billion that has been spent with suppliers has stayed in the UK
  • £12 billion has been invested in land for new homes
  • There is now a plan for 50,000 affordable houses to be built, through section 106 agreements. These will be worth over £4 billion

The report also highlights that this increase in housing supply is having a big impact on the industry. The Government currently has a target of providing 300,000 new houses a year in England. If such targets are met, then we could end up seeing benefits such as:

  • £14.2 billion in economic activity
  • 260,000 jobs created
  • £1.1 billion in tax revenue
  • £384m investment in infrastructure

Stewart Baseley, executive chairman of the Home Builders Federation (HBF), has said: “The house building industry is a massive driver of the UK economy and makes a huge contribution to communities across the country.

“While delivering much-needed new homes of all tenures, house builders are quietly creating and sustaining jobs, generating receipts for the exchequer and boosting investment in infrastructure and amenities in villages, towns and cities.

“As well as becoming ever more reliant on private builders to deliver affordable housing through planning agreements, vast sums are ploughed into new roads, schools and community facilities every year.

“The unprecedented increases in housing supply in recent years have delivered significant benefits for UKPLC and the industry is investing in more land and people to enable it to go further and build more.

“The industry is calling on Government to work with it to create the policies that will allow it to deliver the government’s ambition of 300,000 homes a year in England. Delivering more homes will not only help solve our acute housing crisis, but also provide a further boost to communities and economies up and down the country.”

Matthew Spry, Senior Director at Lichfields commented: “We were delighted to be asked by the HBF to update our original 2015 report. In preparing our analysis we drew upon a wide range of official and well-established data sources, as well as engaging directly with house building companies including to capture information they assemble as part of Corporate Social Responsibility reporting.

“We have again identified the very significant economic contribution made by house building and how boosting supply to achieve the Government’s aspiration of 300,000 homes per annum in England will not only help improve access to housing for people across the country but also deliver a significant economic and infrastructure dividend.

“It is important that this contribution is properly recognised in planning and investment decisions across central and local government, agencies and Local Enterprise Partnerships.”

House Building Must Grow Fivefold to Meet Right to Buy Promise, Warns NAO

House building to replace homes sold through the Right to Buy scheme must grow fivefold to meet the Government’s one-for-one promise, MPs have been warned.

The National Audit Office (NAO) also explains that the Government pledge to replace homes sold through the scheme “does not necessarily mean like-for-like”. It says that replacement properties can be “a different size, and built in a different area, compared to those that have been sold”.

House Building Must Grow Fivefold to Meet Right to Buy Promise, Warns NAO

House Building Must Grow Fivefold to Meet Right to Buy Promise, Warns NAO

The warnings are included in an NAO report prepared for the Public Accounts Committee (PAC). MPs on the committee are analysing what impact the Housing and Planning Bill will have and whether it will achieve value for money.

The bill, currently going through the House of Lords, plans to give 1.3m housing association tenants the right to buy their homes at discounted prices. The extension of the current scheme would be financed through the sale of high value council homes when they become vacant.

The Government has also vowed to replace each home sold by housing associations, as well as additional properties for those sold by councils, with at least two additional affordable homes for each one sold in London, where there is a chronic shortage of housing. Councils will have three years to replace homes sold to fund the scheme.

However, the NAO report warns MPs that the “pace of replacement will also need to accelerate to keep pace with the target in subsequent years”.

It states: “To meet the target of replacing the roughly 8,512 homes sold in 2014/15 by the end of 2017/18… would require quarterly housing starts to reach around 2,130, a fivefold increase on recent figures of approximately 420 per quarter.”

The NAO also criticises the Department for Communities and Local Government’s (DCLG) assessment of the impact of the policy. It claims the DCLG assessment, “when reviewed against good practice… has weaknesses”.

The NAO says that the DCLG’s assessment fails to give alternative options for achieving its aims, or a summary of other options considered at an earlier stage. It adds that while it identifies a number of groups that may be affected by the bill, “it does not seek to quantify the costs or benefits, and it omits some potential impacts”.

The NAO concludes: “Additionally, though dependent on certain assumptions, the impact assessment does not state those assumptions clearly, use evidence to justify them, or sensitivity analysis to consider the potential impact of uncertainties relating to them.”1

The Government has confirmed that secondary legislation will define what high value is when determining how much each council will pay to fund the sale of housing association homes.

The extension of the Right to Buy scheme to housing association tenants has been continuously criticised. Many believe that it will restrict the availability of affordable housing.

Also, it was recently claimed that many homes sold through the current Right to Buy scheme for council tenants are now being rented out by private landlords.


Pilot to utilise brownfield land for housing begins

Published On: March 16, 2016 at 10:45 am


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Some local councils are to push forwards plans to use more derelict and underused land for new homes in Britain. 73 councils across the UK will pilot a new brownfield register, which will give house builders up to date and publicly available information on brownfield sites available for local housing.


Communities Secretary Greg Clark believes that these registers will assist house builders in finding suitable sites more quickly. This in turn will speed up the construction of new homes, and will also allow communities to flag up local sites for listing.

In some cases, this will include derelict building and eyesores that are earmarked for redevelopment and could attract investment to the area.

The Government has already pledged to provide one million more homes and to put planning permission in place on 90% of suitable sites for housing. This new move underlines commitment to building on brownfield land.


Mr Clark said that, ‘a key part of our ambition to build a million homes is to get work started on brownfield sites across the country, many of which are currently nothing more than blight on a community’s landscape.’[1]

‘These councils will be at the forefront of these efforts to list land and encourage builders to deliver new homes for aspiring home owners. But this is just the first step and I would urge councils to continue to offer up brownfield sites to deliver the homes their residents want and need,’ he continued.[1]


Housing Minister Brandon Lewis explained that all councils taking part in these pilots will set the precedent for future Government policy on the operation of brownfield registers.

Lewis noted, ‘registers will eventually become mandatory for all councils under proposals going through Parliament in the Housing and Planning Bill.’[1] He also said other measures in the Bill will enable permission to be given for housing led development sites noted on the brownfield registers.

Pilot to utilise brownfield land for housing begins

Pilot to utilise brownfield land for housing begins


Every council taking part in the pilot scheme will get £10,000 in Government funding to help establish their registers.

The 15 councils with the most brownfield land taking part in the register pilot project are:

  • Cherwell
  • County Durham
  • Huntingdonshire
  • Leeds
  • Liverpool
  • Manchester
  • Medway
  • Newcastle upon Tyne
  • Peterborough
  • Selby
  • Sheffield
  • South Cambridgeshire
  • Sunderland
  • Tonbridge and Malling
  • Wigan


Report Calls for Powers to be Devolved to London to Solve Housing Crisis

Published On: March 7, 2016 at 9:54 am


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Local authorities must be given more powers over house building in London if the capital is to overcome its housing crisis, according to a new report.

The London Housing Commission, lead by Lord Kerslake, states that rogue landlords should be forced to bring their rental properties up to a decent standard or have these homes banned from the market.

The report, released today, puts forward a number of proposals to solve London’s housing crisis.

It claims that all London boroughs should be able to set up their own landlord licensing schemes and use the fees to increase enforcement activity in the private rental sector.

The London Housing Commission insists that London needs a “radical devolution” deal if it is to overcome the severe lack of housing.

Report Calls for Powers to be Devolved to London to Solve Housing Crisis

Report Calls for Powers to be Devolved to London to Solve Housing Crisis

In return for greater powers over borrowing, property taxes and the planning system, the Mayor of London and local authorities would have to make a joint commitment to deliver significantly higher numbers of new homes, it says.

The report believes that devolving powers from central government to London boroughs could double the number of new homes built in the capital every year to 50,000.

It adds that London should be able to retain a significant portion of Stamp Duty money to fund house building.

The London Housing Commission would also like to see local authorities able to set Council Tax premiums on empty and second homes.

Lord Kerslake, the Chairman of the London Housing Commission, comments: “London is facing a housing crisis of unprecedented proportions brought about by a chronic under-supply of new housing. It needs urgently to be building far more houses of all types and tenures.

“The only route to building substantially more homes in London is to give the capital’s leaders more direct responsibility over the key levers, such as land use, planning rules, housing standards, property taxes and investment, and holding them accountable for delivery.”1 

The Head of Policy at the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), Jeremy Blackburn, responds to the report: “There is no doubt that London faces a housing crisis. As we have always said, the solution relied on all parts of the housing sector firing on all cylinders to deliver all kinds of new homes from Government-funded social housing to private new builds.

“Critically, new and replacement social homes must have protection from Right to Buy in London.”

But Blackburn does not support all of the commission’s plans. He has criticised the proposal to allow councils to set up their own landlord licensing schemes.

He explains: “Though we agree with the London Housing Commission that poor quality homes and rogue landlords need to be addressed, the introduction of individual licensing schemes for each borough would place additional regulatory burdens on landlords and local authorities.

“They would also penalise those that are providing a good service, creating a fractured regulatory framework and hindering institutional investment in the private rented sector.”

However, he does praise some elements of the report: “Given the failure of central government to deliver enough genuinely affordable new homes, a move to devolve powers and responsibility to front line local authorities will help solve some of the issues that are currently blocking the supply of homes.”1 

Do you believe that these proposals would help solve the London housing crisis?



Redevelopment of Empty London Buildings Could Provide 420,000 Homes for Rent, Says Think Tank

Published On: February 17, 2016 at 4:01 pm


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Redeveloping unused or empty commercial land and buildings in London could provide up to 420,000 additional homes for rent by 2036, according to a leading think tank.

Research from the Policy Exchange found that there are more than 500 hectares of empty or under utilised industrial land in the capital alone – the equivalent of 750 football pitches – as well as a huge amount of neglected retail space in outer London.

Redevelopment of Empty London Buildings Could Provide 420,000 Homes for Rent, Says Think Tank

Redevelopment of Empty London Buildings Could Provide 420,000 Homes for Rent, Says Think Tank

The think tank’s report states that if the Government were to commit £3.1 billion per year to finance the purchase of this land, alongside a private sector partner, such as an institutional investor, about 21,000 homes could be built every year.

The Policy Exchange suggests that the homes should be designed to accommodate the ever-expanding private rental sector and shared ownership market by using pre-fabricated materials, which will overcome skills shortages in the construction industry and other factors that slowdown house building, such as bad weather conditions.

Rental income from the homes and the sale of equity stakes could recover the Government’s money within 20 years, says the think tank.

If a scheme like this went ahead, it would be the largest Government investment and delivery on housing since the 1970s.

The report adds that the process of buying non-residential land could be sped up by giving extra powers to the Mayor of London to fast track the purchase of commercial land and buildings that have been empty or unused for two years or more.

At present, around 27,000 homes are being built in London each year – significantly less than the estimated 50,000 homes that are needed every year to keep up with demand.

The Head of Housing at the Policy Exchange, Chris Walker, comments: “The Government urgently needs to make bold reforms to the laws surrounding compulsory purchase of empty or under utilised commercial properties to create a significant supply of land for new housing.

“It should seriously consider making the largest investment in housing since the 1970s to pay for land acquisition, land redevelopment and large scale house building.”1