After the trailing and pre-briefing on the much-anticipated Housing White Paper, the article was finally published yesterday. The paper covers a wide range of topics – this article breaks down the key facts and implications.
Assessing housing needs
Every local area will be required to produce a realistic and up-to-date plan which they review at least every five years. This follows criticism of some authorities who have failed to develop and publicise a Local Plan.
To restrict land banking, there will be measures to improve transparency around land ownership and the Government will free up more public sector land more quickly. There is an expectation that in areas where there is a shortage of available land, developers must avoid the creation of “low-density” homes.
The Government has underlined its committed to protecting the green belt. There will, however be measures to speed up and simplify the completion notice process. Most notably, the time permitted between planning permission and the start of building will be reduced from three, to two years before lapsing.
There will also be more active encouragement for local planning authorities to deploy compulsory purchase powers on stalled sites. New guidance will follow a separate consultation.
Support for SME developers
Roughly 60% of new homes are built by just 10 companies. The Government therefore intends to make it easier for small and medium-sized (SME) builders to compete.
This will be done through the deployment of a £3bn fund that includes support for off-site construction.
Homes ownership focus and affordable housing
There is a change in focus for Starter Homes, which are to be offered to first-time buyers at a discount. Originally there was a target to develop 200,000 homes under this mantle. Now it will be incorporated within a more flexible programme which will include a “a wider range of affordable housing” using already announced funding.
Starter Homes will also be aimed at households with combined incomes of less than £80,000, or £90,000 in London. There will also be a requirement for 10% of all sites to be for affordable home ownership. The percentage of Starter Homes on sites will be set locally by councils.
There has also been confirmation that the 1% rent reduction will continue through the life of this parliament but the Government will be announcing a new standard to help social landlords borrow against future income beyond 2020.
The Government are also launching a new consultation on planning and affordable housing for Build to Rent.
Protections for leaseholders and private renters
Safeguards in the private rented sector will be strengthened to prevent homelessness. For example, banning orders will be introduced to remove culpable landlords or agents.
The Government will also work with to promote 3-year tenancy agreements that provide more security.
There will also be reforms to ensure that leasehold terms are fairer, so that buyers are not burdened with escalating ground rents.
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