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‘Fixing our broken housing market’: Housing White Paper
‘Fixing our broken housing market’, DCLG’s Housing White Paper, has been published; it includes a series of consultation questions, with a Build to Rent (BtR) consultation issued alongside (responses to both have to be submitted by 2 May). Lichfields' review of the White Paper analyses what the Government expects of councils in terms of development management, local plans and neighbourhood plans, and what is expected of private developers.  The review also covers: Build to Rent: longer tenancies and affordable private rental homes Small sites, and more support for small and medium-size builders Statutory plans to include design expectations More affordable housing tenures and certainty for how starter homes will be taken forward Continuing ‘defence’ of the Green Belt, with a clearer approach for considering land release The Government defines its proposals as four steps to achieving the objective of boosting new housing supply, to deliver ‘between 225,000 and 275,000 homes every year’. The steps are: Planning for the right homes in the right places (principally by using local and neighbourhood plan policies) Building homes faster (mainly by better linking infrastructure with housing development, more efficient development management and addressing the construction skills shortages) Diversifying the housing market (focussing on increasing the numbers of small and medium-size builders, promoting more varied forms of tenure and encouraging ‘modern methods of construction’) Helping people now (by meeting all of the population’s diverse housing needs) The White Paper broadly succeeds in bringing together all of the strands of England’s complex housing market, then connects them together so as to take a holistic approach to getting more homes built (and brought back into use). Most importantly, it is drafted in such a way that it reduces the risk of a hiatus in housebuilding – the Government should be praised for combining and putting forward its latest and extensive suggested measures in once place, for consultation over the next 3 months. No new Planning Bill features and instead, the White Paper’s predominantly changed policy directions represent a sensible smoothing of the ‘rough edges’ of a planning system in England that saw nearly 200,000 net housing completions in the last year. This is despite only around one third of planning authorities having a post-National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) adopted local plan. The planning regime is now seen by Government as being more or less fit for purpose - or at least it will be by the end of the year, once the Neighbourhood Planning Bill is enacted and all of the proposed changes to the NPPF and national Planning Practice Guidance are made. Blogs analysing specific elements of ‘Fixing our broken housing market’ their implications will be uploaded to other pages of ‘Planning Matters’, so you may wish to consider subscribing.

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Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has published ‘A City for all Londoners’, which marks the first step towards the creation of a new London Plan, as well as new strategies for wide-ranging policy areas that will be published in draft next year. ‘Interim’ supplementary planning guidance (SPG) on maximising affordable housing provision will be published later in 2016, at some point after the Government’s Housing White Paper that is due in late November (most likely on the 23rd, the date of the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement).‘A City for all Londoners’ is referred to by Khan as ‘a statement of my ambition as mayor’ and is out for consultation until 11 December 2016. With the Mayor advising that the publication should be read as a whole, rather than as separate themed sections on housing, the economy or environment etc., Khan’s stated intention is to build on his election manifesto and the announcements he has made since May. The consultation document therefore sets the direction of travel for Mayoral policies, focusing more on proposed lines of intervention and strategies, rather than setting specific targets and goals.‘A City for all Londoners’ is split into five parts, with the main highlights being as follows: It does not set an annual target for new homes, although it states that experts have said that the need is to build ‘at least 50,000 homes every year between now and 2041’ (page 19); The intention to protect Green Belt and other designated green spaces is reiterated early in the document (page 19); It pledges to protect the job-creating role of central London, by resisting ‘moves to convert offices to housing unless this can be justified’ (page 21) and protecting existing workspace and identifying new workspace areas (page 53); Transport development and infrastructure are recognised as crucial (including river crossings in the east) in delivering development in non-central locations, and to creating new opportunities for homes and jobs (page 21); There should be more development in town centres, particularly those with good links to central London; similarly, the potential of areas around stations as locations for ‘significant and much higher density housing development’ will be explored (page 23); Hotel provision will be increased in both Opportunity Areas and town centres in Outer London, where good transport links are available. The document sets a target for ‘at least additional 40,000 hotel rooms in London’ by 2036 (page 53); It aims to agree ‘joint infrastructure investment corridors […] that stretch out beyond London’s borders’, by working with neighbouring authorities in the wider South East (page 25); Ways to deliver more infrastructure will be explored, by focusing on mechanisms ‘to ensure that London as a whole benefits from the future uplift in land prices following development’ (page 47); It set the goal for a zero-carbon London by 2050 (pages 27 and 61); It states the intention to move to ‘all new buildings in London to be air quality positive’ - they will have to ‘contribute actively to progressive reduction in the total amount of London’s emissions and associated exposure’ (page 59); It reaffirms the intention to explore the ‘agent-of-change’ principle, whereby developers would bear the costs for soundproofing new homes (details are expected in proposed Night-Time Economy SPG, due ‘in the coming months’) (page 27); The affordable housing target is still set at 50%, in terms of ‘working towards’ it (page 39); interestingly, starter homes are not mentioned in the document at all - ‘low-cost rented, the London Living Rent and shared ownership’ are the housing types the Mayor aims to offer (page 9); It confirms that an ‘interim’ SPG on maximising affordable housing provision will be published later in 2016 (page 91); It states that the Mayor is currently ‘reviewing plans for the two Mayoral Development Corporations’ (London Legacy and Old Oak and Park Royal), ‘to make sure they deliver as many new and affordable homes as possible’ (page 41); It confirms the Mayor is focusing on attracting finance into ‘new high-quality build-to-rent developments’ (page 41); and In several parts of the document the Mayor reiterates his call for the devolution of powers from central government (on fiscal policies, railway services, etc.). The Mayor is making it clear that in forming the new Plan and his strategies for key policy areas, he is receptive to others’ ideas. He wants to be made fully aware of stakeholder and public needs as early as possible therefore invitation-only stakeholder workshops, plus community focus groups and online discussions are beginning to be arranged. No details have been published yet however.

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