Summary of the Key Points from the Housing White Paper

Summary of the key points from the Government’s Housing White Paper released today. The consultation opens today and will run for 12 weeks and will close on 2 May 2017. All responses should be received by no later than 23:45 on 2 May 2017. Responses can be emailed to planningpolicyconsultation@communities.gsi.gov.uk. A summary of all consultation questions can be seen in the document attached. Relevant housing associations issues can be seen immediately below.  Alongside the white paper, the Government has also launched a new consultation on planning and affordable housing for Build to Rent.

 

Housing Association issues

For housing associations and other not-for profit developers, the Government state they have already announced funding worth a total of £7.1 billion through an ‘expanded and more flexible Affordable Homes Programme’.

 

The Government state in the White Paper they will “provide clarity over future rent levels”. In return they state that they expect them to build significantly more affordable homes over the current Parliament.

 

To help housing associations the Government states it will:

 

  • Set out, in due course, a rent policy for social housing landlords (housing associations and local authority landlords) for the period beyond 2020 to help them to borrow against future income, and will undertake further discussions with the sector before doing so. The Government states its aim is to ensure that the housing association sector will have the confidence it needs about their future income in order to plan ahead. The Government also confirms that the 1% rent reduction will remain in place in the period up to 2020;
  • Put social housing regulation on a more independent footing and will make the Social Housing Regulator a stand-alone body;
  • Reiterate its position that housing associations belong in the private sector and remain committed to implementing the necessary deregulatory measures to allow housing associations to be classified as private sector bodies;
  • Urge housing associations to explore every avenue for building more homes. The Government expects all associations to make the best use of whatever development capacity they have to help meet local housing need;
  • Expect housing associations to make every effort to improve their efficiency, in order to release additional resources for housebuilding. In some cases, the Government states that housing associations will be able to drive efficiency through mergers or partnerships with other associations. The Government also welcomes the efforts being made by some in the sector to create a single set of metrics to make it easier to compare housing associations’ efficiency. The Government expects the sector to implement this agenda and deliver measurable improvements in efficiency.

 

Please see below for a summary of the key issues in the Housing White Paper.

On planning for the ‘right homes in the right places’ the Government will:

  • Make sure every part of the country has an up-to-date, sufficiently ambitious plan so that local communities decide where development should go, not speculative applications.
  • Simplify plan-making and make it more transparent so it’s easier for communities to produce plans and easier for developers to follow them.
  • Ensure that plans start from an honest assessment of the need for new homes and that local authorities work with their neighbours so that difficult decisions are not ducked.
  • Clarify what land is available for new housing through greater transparency over who owns land and the options held on it.
  • Make more land available for homes in the right places by maximising the contribution from brownfield and surplus public land, regenerating estates, releasing more small and medium sized sites, allowing rural communities to grow and making it easier to build new settlements.
  • Maintain existing strong protections for the Green Belt and clarify that Green Belt boundaries should be amended only in exceptional circumstances when local authorities can demonstrate that they have fully examined all other reasonable options for meeting their identified housing requirements.
  • Give communities a stronger voice in the design of new housing to drive up the quality and character of new development, building on the success of neighbourhood planning.
  • Make better use of land for housing by encouraging higher densities where appropriate, such as in urban locations where there is high housing demand, and by reviewing space standards.

 

On building homes faster the Government will:

  • Provide greater certainty for authorities that have planned for new homes and reduce the scope for local and neighbourhood plans to be undermined by changing the way that land supply for housing is assessed.
  • Boost local authority capacity by increasing planning fees.
  • Consult on deterring unnecessary appeals by introducing a fee (refunded if your appeal is successful).
  • Ensure infrastructure is provided in the right place at the right time by coordinating Government investment and through the targeting of the £2.3bn Housing Infrastructure Fund.
  • Secure timely connections to utilities so that this does not hold up getting homes built.
  • Support developers to build out more quickly by tackling unnecessary delays caused by planning conditions, facilitating the strategic licensing of protected species and exploring a new approach to how developers contribute to infrastructure.
  • Take steps to grow the construction workforce.
  • Speed up build out by encouraging modern methods of construction in house-building.
  • Speed up build out on surplus public sector sites through the Accelerated Construction programme that can build homes more quickly than traditional builders.
  • Having addressed the things that developers say delay delivery, hold them to account for the delivery of new homes through better and more transparent data and sharper tools for local authorities to drive up delivery.
  • Having given them extra powers, hold local authorities to account through a new housing delivery test.

 

On diversifying the market the Government will:

  • Help small and medium-sized builders to grow through the Home Building Fund and supporting development on small sites.
  • Support custom-build homes with greater access to land and finance, giving more people more choice over the design of their home.
  • Bring in new contractors through our Accelerated Construction programme.
  • Encourage more institutional investors into housing, including for building more homes for private rent with family friendly tenancies.
  • Support housing associations to deliver more homes through a package of measures.
  • Ensure the public sector plays its part by encouraging more building by councils and changing the way the Homes and Communities Agency operates.

 

On helping people now the Government will:

  • Continue to support people to buy their own home through Help to Buy and launching Starter Homes.
  • Help households who are priced out of the market to afford a decent home that is right for them through our investment in the Affordable Homes Programme, which delivers homes for shared ownership, rent to buy and affordable homes for rent.
  • Make renting fairer for tenants.
  • Take action to promote transparency and fairness for the growing number of leaseholders.
  • Improve neighbourhoods by continuing to crack down on empty homes and support areas most affected by second homes.
  • Encourage the development of housing that meets the needs of an ageing population.
  • Help the most vulnerable who need support with their housing, developing a sustainable and workable approach to funding supported housing in the future.
  • Do more to prevent homelessness by supporting households at risk before they reach crisis point as well as reducing rough sleeping.
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