‘Fixing our broken housing market’: Housing White Paper

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‘Fixing our broken housing market’: Housing White Paper

‘Fixing our broken housing market’: Housing White Paper

Jennie Baker 08 Feb 2017

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:

  1. Planning for the right homes in the right places (principally by using local and neighbourhood plan policies)
  2. Building homes faster (mainly by better linking infrastructure with housing development, more efficient development management and addressing the construction skills shortages)
  3. 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’)
  4. 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.