• Kevin Murphy

UK: New Plans to Reform Housing Planning

New plans have just been announced as to how the government will reform the housing planning system in its quest to build 300,000 new homes a year by the mid-2020's. Knight Frank is reporting that the plans announced by Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick includes new plans to digitize the planning system , convert land to be used for residential home building, building upwards and give more power to local councils for the use of compulsory purchase orders to meet new housing demand. The new plans call for the repurposing of existing and unused commercial, industrial and residential blocks for new homes.

The national brownfield map will be launched by the government in April 2020 with calls for new proposals for building above and around rail stations. Councils have been urged to adopt the Local Plans by the end of 2023 including 'fast track' planning approval for new developments and increased application fees to assist local governments in their assessment for local housing demands. A Planning White Paper is expected this Spring with the new plans and another the Affordable Housing White Paper later in the year.

There is a proposal in The Budget for investment of £1 billion for the Housing Infrastructure Fund to build 70,000 new homes for 'high demand areas' in the UK and £5.2 billion for flood defenses and £400 million to redevelop brownfield land. Also included in the proposal is an establishment of four development corporations between Oxford to Cambridge for increased growth.

Three new ideas were included in the proposals:

The use of zoning as an alternative to current land use planning,

Transparency for 'land options' as to who has the land that but not using it for development,

And a new £640 million fund for dealing with the homeless.

Stuart Baillie, Head of Planning at Knight Frank:

"This includes a commitment to amend the National Planning Policy Framework, with more focus on design and placemaking. New permitted development rights will need a clear framework to understand how these are to be controlled and implemented. New natural light standards will need to be further detailed to understand the implications for development particularly in densely developed areas.”

Charlie Dugdale, Knight Frank Residential Development Partner:

“It is encouraging to see an acknowledgement of the Building Better, Building Beautiful Commission. Knight Frank’s recommendations to the Commission included the importance of a long-term flexible infrastructure fund to support those landowners seeking to adopt a stewardship role. We hope that private landowners will be able to access the fund as well as Local Authorities, Communities and Developers."

“Planning for the Future endorses the use of geospatial data applications within the creation of a brownfield map and a zoning approach to planning. Whilst we caveat that any zoning must be accompanied by a rigorous approach to defining the form of development at a local level, we believe that geospatial systems will bring many efficiencies to the planning system and the wider housing market."

“The Commission highlighted the perverse incentive to demolish buildings that exists within our tax regime. We have concerns with the proposals which seek to further encourage demolition through permitted development. Research regularly supports that heritage assets bring social and economic benefits with strong correlations to where businesses want to locate, and where people want to live, shop and engage. Why are we incentivising demolition before buildings can become heritage assets? We believe the test must include dereliction, not just vacancy, and there is a danger that the rights will miss a significant opportunity that exists with derelict agricultural buildings.”

“We continue to have concerns over the use of blunt supply-side policies such as the Housing Delivery Test. On the one hand, Planning Authorities are under-resourced and applying yet more pressure on them will simply push more talent out of the sector. On the other hand, many locations have ample supply and it is the lack of demand that is limiting delivery. This was a relationship that became evident in Knight Frank’s case study of Great Yarmouth published within its report to the Building Better, Building Beautiful Commission. For both reasons, planning and delivery will function better through investment.”

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