Newts, new homes and green field protection among promises
THE GOVERNMENT housing White Paper was finally published this week after a long wait and the contents have had a mixed response.
Entitled Fixing our broken housing market it included pledges to create more affordable homes, support factory-built house building and longer tenancies.
Housing minister Sajid Javid said: “The housing market in this country is broken and the solution means building many more houses in the places that people want to live.”
Labour housing minister
John Healey called the raft of measures “feeble beyond belief ”. Here are some of the key points in the housing White Paper
Capping the time between obtaining planning permission and starting construction at two years instead of three to cut down on land banking. Developers who do not build quickly enough may be subject to compulsory purchase orders.
Local councils must ensure they have an up-to-date Local Plan setting out sites suitable for development and ensuring that enough homes are built for elderly and disabled people. If a new plan is not in place every five years, the government may intervene. MPs questions on whether local demand would be taken into consideration were met with answers that were far from clear.
The Land Registry will aim to achieve comprehensive land registration by 2030. This will include all publicly-held land in the areas of greatest housing need being registered by 2020, with the rest to follow by 2025.
Actively encouraging custom builders, the institutional buildto-rent sector and incentivising longer “family friendly”, three year tenancies. There will also be powers to powers contained in the Housing and Planning Act to stop unscrupulous landlords.
A newt off-setting scheme. To stop development being delayed by the presence of great crested newts, developers may be allowed to build over their ponds but only if better habitat has been provided elsewhere.
Higher density developments in urban locations well served by public transport. The government wants to see more high rise flats, mews houses and mansion blocks in these areas.
From July this year, local authorities will be allowed to charge 20 per cent more for dealing with planning applications, providing they reinvest in their hard-pressed planning departments.
The £3bn Home Building Fund will be used to help small to medium size building firms compete with major developers. At the moment, nearly 60 per cent of all new homes are built by just 10 big developers.
Support for off-site, modern methods of construction. This process is not cheaper but it is quicker and will allow faster delivery of factory-built homes.
In April this year, the government will introduce the Lifetime ISA. This will give firsttime buyers a 25 per cent bonus on up to £4,000 of savings a year. Savings and the bonus can be put towards the purchase of a home, or withdrawn once they reach the age of 60.
Maintaining protection for the green belt, which can only be built on “in exceptional circumstances”. Ancient woodland will be included in the green belt category.
Releasing more publicly owned land for development.
Banning letting agents’ fees. This promise made last year looks set become a reality, despite an agents’ campaign.
A proposal that 20 per cent of all homes on larger developments had to be starter homes is to be dropped and replaced with a “clear expectation” that at least 10 per cent of developments will include them.