The Budget - planning highlights
The Budget echoes a number of themes first raised in the Government's 2017 Housing White Paper on how the planning system could be modified to help meet the ambitious target of 300,000 new homes per year.
The increased use of compulsory purchase powers for site assembly purposes is welcomed. Estate regeneration gets further direct government support in the form of £400 million of loan funding for regeneration to run-down neighbourhoods and new homes in high demand areas. We see the use of CPO powers as key to unlocking development which would otherwise be prohibitively expensive.
Whilst the Budget suggests that CIL is here to stay, many of the consultation proposals (earlier this year) appear to have been listened to. This is particularly relevant in relation to the removal of section 106 pooling restrictions which are undoubtedly unpopular and introduce an unwarranted level of complexity. Allowing authorities to set rates which better reflect the uplift in land values between a proposed use and an existing use is an interesting idea and suggests that a new, more sophisticated CIL regime may be in the offing.
There will be a consultation on the introduction of policies to allow development on unallocated land for schemes which contain a high proportion of discounted sale units for first time buyers. The recently created 'starter home' tenure was borne out of the Housing and Planning Act 2016 but has received a lukewarm response from developers to date and this may well help to increase take up.
Policy changes to make it easier to convert from retail employment land into housing suggests that further permitted development rights are on the way. This builds on the continued success of office to residential conversions. The impact this has though will very much depend on the extent to which local authorities introduce Article 4 directions removing permitted development rights to protect retail and employment uses.
The proposal to bring together private and public capital to build five new garden towns is very much supported. Brownfield sites and urban intensification have an important part to play in delivering a high volume of units but it will not be possible to reach the 300,000 new homes per year target without embracing ambitious large-scale building projects.