The Housing and Planning Bill – An Overview

23 Mar 2016

On 13 October 2015, the Housing and Planning Bill had its first reading in the House of Commons.  It has been announced “as the start of a national crusade to transform generation rent into generation buy” and is a clear step towards the Government’s goal of building 1 million new homes by 2020 and giving people the opportunity to buy their own home.

The Bill contains a number of provisions, including:

Starter Homes

  • These are new homes to be sold at a discount of 20% of the market value.  They are for sale only to first-time buyers under 40 years old and with maximum price caps of £450,000 within Greater London and £250,000 outside of Greater London.
  • There will be a duty on LPAs to carry out some planning functions with a view to promoting the supply of starter homes in England.
  • The Secretary of State may provide that a LPA in England may only grant permission for particular residential development if the start homes requirement is met.  The Secretary may also make “a compliance direction” if the LPA has failed to carry out its functions in respect of starter homes at all or adequately and a policy in any of its local development documents is incompatible with those functions – meaning that the policy will have no weight when determining planning applications.

Self-Build and Custom Housebuilding

  • Local authorities are required to grant sufficient suitable development consents on serviced plots in order to meet the need for self-build and custom housebuilding in their area.

Vacant High Value Local Authority Housing

  • The Secretary of State may require a local authority with Housing Revenue Accounts in England to pay the Secretary of State an estimate of the market value of the authority’s interest in any high value housing (listed in the Housing Revenue Account list) that is likely to become vacant during the year less any costs or other deductions stated by the Secretary.  “High value” will be defined by regulations.
  • The same local authorities will be required to consider selling their interests in any high value housing that has become vacant.

Planning in England

  • In certain circumstances, the Secretary of State can require a local planning authority to designate an entire area which has been applied to be designated as a ‘neighbourhood area’ by a neighbourhood forum.
  • The Secretary of State can prescribe time periods for the exercise of key neighbourhood planning functions and intervene in a local planning authority’s decision making in certain circumstances.
  • Permission in principle may be granted for the development of land in England which has been allocated in a qualifying document (initially intended to be land allocated in the Brownfield Registry, Development Plan Documents and Neighbourhood Plans). Development orders from the Secretary would grant unconditional permission in principle directly or this could come from a local authority.  Permission in principle will be granted if the allocated land satisfies the requirements of the development order.  A technical details consent would be dealt with by the local planning authority and could be approved subject to conditions, resulting in the grant of full planning permission.
  • Local planning authorities will be required to keep a register of particular kinds of land prescribed by the Secretary of State who intends to start with ‘brownfield land’ which is suitable for housing development.
  • The Secretary of State has the power to grant development consent for housing which is linked to an application for a Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project.

Compulsory Purchase

  • There are a number of proposals to speed up the process including timetables for steps of confirmation of a CPO, a statutory time limit for notice to treat or general vesting declarations.
  • There are also powers of entry for survey.
  • Changes are made to the overriding of easements and restrictive covenants.

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