Summer Budget 2015 - fixing the foundations

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News article

Summer Budget 2015 - fixing the foundations

July 2015

planning & construction
The first Conservative only budget for almost two decades was delivered on 8 July.  Planning news was only noticeable in its absence, but was robustly covered in detail two days later by the Business Secretary Sajid Javid in the publication 'Fixing the Foundations: creating a more prosperous nation'. Our planning team highlight some of the key proposals in this commentary below.
 
In 2012 the UK planning system faced the greatest reorganisation of its policy structure for many years.  Under a coalition government, this heralded the arrival of the ‘National Planning Policy Framework’ (NPPF)summ and with it the emphasis on kickstarting the recovering economy through house building.
 
Fixing the Foundations echoes the coalition policies seen in the NPPF, now consolidated through the single party Government.
 
There are big headlines for planning, making it into the national press, mainly concerning housing delivery through: brownfield land, devolved powers, compulsory purchase powers and increased scrutiny of local planning authority performance through permission targets and publication of local plans
 
Fixing the Foundations is based on two main goals to achieve long term investment and a dynamic economy which will increase productivity and raise living standards.
 
There are eight themes within these two pillars, providing a ’15 point plan’.
 
Point 9 outlines the key ways that Planning Freedoms, more houses to buy will be achieved: 
 
  • Zoning to enable building on brownfield land, forming a register for ‘automatic’ permission
  • Tougher action on local authorities who are not delivering new homes and taking too long to write local plans which adequately address the housing demands
  • Stronger, fairer compulsory purchase powers and devolution of major planning powers to the Mayors of London and Manchester
  • Extending Right to Buy to housing association tenants and providing 200,000 starter homes for first time buyers
  • Restrict tax relief to ensure all individual landlords get the same level of tax relief for their finance costs.
Point 15 also aims for Resurgent Cities, a rebalanced economy and a thriving Northern Powerhouse.  This reveals that devolutionary deals are in the offing for Sheffield, Liverpool, Leeds, West Yorkshire and other partner authorities.  It also says that we should ensure that rural areas can also contribute to, and benefit from, productivity growth.
 

Other planning headlines

  • Fast-track certificate process for establishing the principle of development for minor development proposals
  • Significantly tighten the ‘planning guarantee’ for minor applications
  • In London, removing the need for planning permission for ‘upwards’ residential extensions
  • Increasing airport capacity in the south-east and securing the best methods for the planning process to help with this
  • Making permanent the existing temporary relaxation of planning regulations for broadband infrastructure roll-out
  • A dispute resolution mechanism for section 106 agreements to speed up negotiations and allow housing starts
  • Extend the current exception site policy, to be achieved through strengthening the presumption in favour of Starter Home developments, starting with unviable or underused brownfield land for retail, leisure and institutional uses
  • The Government does not intend to proceed with the zero carbon Allowable Solutions carbon offsetting scheme, or the proposed 2016 increase in on-site energy efficiency standards, but will keep these under review (click here to read further about other significant changes to the Government’s approach to renewable energy)
Commenting on the proposed changes, Rebecca Lock and Alan Hardwick of the Fisher German planning team comment that “the further push for development on brownfield land is positive given the significant lack of housing supply.  However, we consider that it is generally not the lack of planning permission that results in such suitable and sustainable sites not being developed, but the issue of viability associated with such sites.  They often require significant remediation, and it is likely the planning system will still require details of this for approval.  
 
This is likely to result in the continued development of greenfield land, and associated Green Belt reviews, being crucial to meeting the ever increasing housing demand.  Brownfield land in rural districts is limited and so we do not expect a surge of these sites to come forward. The proposal to improve the development and adoption of local policy is key, and whilst the timescales are still to be confirmed, the push remains for local consultation retaining the localism agenda as entrenched within the manifesto of the Conservative Government”.
 

Other news to watch

The Public Accounts Committee held a session on the disposal of public land for new homes on Wednesday 15 July to investigate the evidence and monitoring behind targets set for the delivery of homes. Click here to read more.
 
If you would like to discuss how these planning reforms may affect your interests, please click here to contact a member of your local planning team.
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