The Autumn Budget Statement – What Will it Mean for You?

27th November 2017

The Chancellor Philip Hammond has recently unveiled the Autumn Budget to Parliament with Housing and Planning Policy both being large talking points within the announcement.

A comprehensive package of new (and not so new) planning and housing policy initiatives aim to raise housing supply to 300,000 per year by 2022, the highest level since 1970. Total supply was 137,000 in 2010, rising to 217,000 in 2016, so much ground needs to be made up.

Planning policy is one part of the Chancellor’s integrated strategy to increase housing supply, running alongside increased financial support for housing schemes; innovation and skills funding; and a reduction in Stamp Duty for first-time buyers.

The various planning reforms seek to ensure that more land is available for housing. However, the Chancellor was keen to re-state the Government’s commitment to maintain existing protection for the Green Belt, immediately limiting LPA’s options.

Planning Policy Initiatives
[C] subject to consultation. [I] for immediate implementation

Deallocating Sites [C] Making it clear that allocated land should be taken out of a plan if there is no prospect of a planning application. This simply re-states current NPPF policy.

Local Plan Intervention [I] DCLG intervention in areas where the LPA has failed to put an up-to-date plan in place. The government will use powers in The Neighbourhood Planning Act which enable the Secretary of State to direct LPAs to produce joint statutory plans.

Helping First-Time Buyers [C] LPAs should to grant residential permission on land not already identified in a local plan (excluding Green Belt), if a high proportion of the homes are for discounted sale to first-time buyers, or affordable rent. This looks like an alternative to the unimplemented starter homes legislation in the Planning & Housing Act, 2016.

Affordable Housing [C] Two initiatives were announced:

  •  £2 billion extra funding for affordable housing, including funding for social rented homes, taking the total fund to £9.1 billion by 2020-21. This could help to provide at least 25,000 new affordable homes
  •  Lift Housing Revenue Account borrowing caps from 2019-20 for councils in areas of high affordability pressure, so they can build more council homes. Allocation of funds will be subject to a bid process.

Increased Urban Densities [C] Several measures are proposed, some of which have been consulted on previously, or already exist in a similar form:

  • Minimum densities in city centres and around transport hubs;i) minimum densities in city centres and around transport hubs;
  • Conversion of empty space above shops;ii) conversion of empty space above shops;
  • Simpler criteria for PD retail & employment conversion to housing;
  • New PD rights to demolish commercial buildings and replace them with housing.

Increased Supply of Small Sites [C] LPAs should bring forward 20% of their housing supply as small sites. It’s not clear how such a policy would be enforced, particularly if the protection of residential garden land is retained in the revised NPPF.

Housing Delivery Test [C] Strengthen the proposed Housing Delivery Test, with tougher consequences where planned homes are not being built, setting the threshold at which the presumption in favour of development applies as 75% of housing delivery by 2020. [65% threshold was suggested in the recent Housing White Paper].

Review of Build-Out Rates [C] A review panel to explain the gap between housing completions and the amount of land allocated or permitted. An interim report to be ready for the 2018 Spring Statement, and a full report for the Budget in November 2018.

Deemed Discharge of Planning Conditions [C] Tinkering with the existing procedures to remove the exemptions from deemed discharge.

Register of Planning Permissions [I] Creation of a central register of residential planning permissions to give easier access to information on permissions and build out rates.

S106 Obligations [C] Removing the restriction on S106 pooling towards a single piece of infrastructure, where the LPA has adopted CIL, to address particular local circumstances.

CIL Revisions [C] Several amendments to the CIL process are mooted, representing a very watered-down version of the 2016 CIL Review Panel’s recommendations:

  • Speeding up the CIL consultation, examination and adoption process;i) speeding up the CIL consultation, examination and adoption process;
  • Making it easier to set a higher ‘zonal CIL’ in areas of high land value uplift (e.g. around stations);ii) making it easier to set a higher ‘zonal CIL’ in areas of high land value uplift (e.g. around stations);
  • Allowing LPAs to set different rates for specific land use changes (e.g. creating residential units from agricultural, commercial, or industrial uses);
  • Indexing CIL rates to house price inflation, rather than build costs;iv) indexing CIL rates to house price inflation, rather than build costs;
  • Allowing Combined Authorities to levy a Strategic Infrastructure Tariff [SIT] – in addition to local CIL – similar to the London Mayoral CIL funding for Crossrail.

New Garden Towns [I] Bringing public and private investment together to build five new garden towns, including in areas of high demand such as the South East.

Strategic Planning in the South East [I] Strategic and zonal planning approaches through housing deals in the South East. (e.g. the Government’s recent deal with Oxfordshire, as part of its strategic investment in the Cambridge-Milton Keynes-Oxford corridor).

If you have any questions in regards to the Autumn Budget, please do not hesitate to contact Ian Sowerby at isowerby@bell-cornwell.co.uk or call 01256 766673.

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