Planning policy shake up – what does it mean for property development?

Louise Cheung

Following this week’s budget announcement and the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills report, ‘Fixing the Foundations: creating a prosperous nation’, a great deal has been said about the opportunities to increase house building. The headline being that removing barriers to gaining planning consent will reduce risks for developers, and so it is hoped will boost property development.

The biggest change is the zonal system to allow automatic permission for brownfield site development. This is a welcomed and explicit approach to changing the planning process.

For planners, developers and all other stakeholders involved in the planning process, the government’s intervention into the Local plan process also demonstrates a clear move towards  increasing supply where demand already exists. Other interesting proposals have centred on speeding up planning process, for example, the promotion of an ADR mechanism for s.106 agreements, so that negotiations are handled in an efficient manner thus allowing the housebuilding to begin promptly. Policies will also look at supporting high density housing, and releasing commercial land for housing. The National Significant Infrastructure Regime also provides further means for housing to be facilitated. Good design and architectural merit in housing schemes will also be in the forefront thus tackling ‘nimbyism’ and common barriers to development. However, the raft of State initiatives has removed yet again[1] another pillar towards sustainable and environmentally friendly development, with the end of the Zero Carbon Allowable Solutions offsetting scheme, and the 2016 on-site energy efficiency standards will no longer be implemented. The DEC and EPC rating guidance and enforcement continues as the main tool to promote sustainable and low-carbon emission housing.

These planning changes work tandem with the State increasing credit for aspirational low-income owner-occupiers through government policies such as Help to Buy. Alongside the Right to Buy scheme assisting social housing tenants to become homeowners. These policies demonstrate the State’s commitment to assisting households with homeownership.

However, in truth a boost in house building relies upon the bottom line and what profit developers can make by stoking demand yet restricting supply.

Recently, I watched this video from the ‘The School of Life’ YouTube channel. This promotes quite an interesting reason why homes cost so much and the real changes that need to be made to increase house building. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dcbjWGj3jBk&feature=share

It would be useful to hear your views on this Planning shake up and what it means for Property development, aspirational homeowners and all stakeholder involved in the planning process.

[1] A manifesto point of this Conservative government being the early removal of subsidies for on-shore wind farms http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-33177025

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