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16 February 2017

The Housing White Paper: what else do I need to know?

 The long awaited White Paper, entitled 'Fixing our broken housing market', finally emerged from DCLG on February 7th. It signals the government's direction of travel under Theresa May, with an emphasis on a fairer Britain supporting the hard working for whom housing has become increasing unaffordable. Consultation on some of the key proposals closes on 2 May 2017.

This article is part of a series of articles about the Government's long awaited February 2017 Housing White Paper, which sets out the UK Government's broad approach to addressing issues in the housing market. To read about more topics covered by the White Paper and to access other articles in this series please click here.

What else do I need to know?

The areas covered in the White Paper are wide ranging. We highlight some of the additional areas of focus below:

Increasing fees: Authorities may increase planning application fees by 20% from July provided they invest in their planning department. A further 20% increase may be permitted for authorities who are delivering new homes. Consultation will proceed on pilot schemes for allowing competing providers to process planning applications. Fees for planning appeals are under consultation, potentially to be refunded if appellants are successful.

Protected species: A new strategic approach to streamline licensing for great crested newts is to be rolled out.

Increasing Transparency: There is a drive to publish more information on land ownership and housing delivery. Views are sought on including estimated start dates and projected build out on application forms and on requiring larger house builders to provide aggregate information on build out. Consultation will follow on improving access to data about ownership, control and other interests in land so that it is clear who stands to benefit from planning permission.

New settlements: The government recently announced support for a new wave of garden villages and towns, albeit work on many of those developments has been ongoing for some time. Legislation to allow locally accountable New Town Development Corporations is proposed. The government continues to explore the opportunities that new settlements provide for large scale development and seeks views on how streamlined planning procedures could assist.

Private rented sector: The government wishes to encourage institutional investment in high quality rented and affordable homes. The White Paper is accompanied by a consultation on support for build to rent developments, including on proposals to change the NPPF to require authorities to plan for build to rent where there is need and to facilitate the provision of affordable private rented homes rather than other types of affordable homes on build to rent sites. Family friendly tenancies of three years or more are to be encouraged.

Housing associations: HAs are to be encouraged to borrow and build more. The 1% rent reduction of the previous administration will remain in place upto 2020. However, a rent policy will be set for the period beyond 2020 to give certainty for borrowing. Deregulation will confirm the place of HAs in the private sector and social housing regulation will be reviewed. All HAs are to be urged to make the best use of their development capacity and improve efficiency including through mergers or partnerships.

Local authorities: support is to be offered to authorities who want to build their own homes. Bespoke housing deals are under consideration in high demand areas including through the use of existing and potentially new powers. Views are sought on amending the NPPF to encourage authorities to consider the social and economic benefits of estate regeneration and its delivery to a high standard.

Authority owned land: Future consultation is proposed on giving authorities the ability to dispose of land at less than best consideration without Secretary of State consent. Views are sought on all authorities having the ability to dispose of land with the benefit of permission (at present this does not apply to two tier authorities). Ideas are sought on other powers that authorities should have to assemble sites including to deal with ransom strips and to collaborate with landowners to pool land and realise the benefit from the grant of permission.

This article was written by Claire Fallows, Head of Planning, for more information please contact Claire on +44 (0)20 7427 1046 or