The Government today published its joint Spending Review and Autumn Statement and there are a number of key impacts on planning and development to be aware of.

The Government has announced significant supply side reforms to the economy:

  • Section 106 – The government will bring forward proposals for a more standardised approach to viability assessments, and extend the ability to appeal against unviable section 106 agreements to 2018.
  • Starter Homes – The government will amend planning policy to ensure the release of unused and previously undeveloped commercial, retail and industrial land for Starter Homes, and support regeneration of previously developed brownfield sites in the greenbelt by allowing them to be developed in the same way as brownfield sites elsewhere (providing it delivers Starter Homes). This will be subject to local consultation, such as through Neighbourhood Plans.
  • SME house builders – The Government will halve the length of the planning guarantee and amend planning policy to support small sites, while ensuring protection for existing gardens. The £1 billion Builders’ Finance Fund will also be extended to 2020-21.
  • Local Plans – The Government will bring forward proposals for a delivery test on Local Authorities, to ensure delivery against the homes set out in Local Plans within a reasonable timeframe.
  • Neighbourhood Plans – The Government will ensure that local communities can allocate land for housing through neighbourhood plans, even if that land is not allocated in the local plan.
  • Planning conditions – The Government will review the operation of the deemed discharge of planning conditions.
  • Quality of decision making – To support decision-making in line with local plans and the principles in the National Planning Policy Framework, the Government will bring forward proposals to strengthen the performance regime, by lowering the threshold for the quality of decisions to 10% of all major decisions overturned on appeal. Wider circumstances, such as the status of the Local Plan and whether appeals relate to this, will be taken into account.

The Government plans to deliver 400,000 affordable housing starts by 2020-21:

  • 200,000 Starter Homes which will be sold at a 20% discount compared to market value to young first time buyers, with a £2.3 billion fund to support the delivery of up to 60,000 of these, in addition to those delivered through reform of the planning system. House builders can now apply to make their developments Starter Homes at: http://www.new-homes.co.uk/starter-homes/
  • 135,000 Help to Buy homes: Shared Ownership homes, which will allow more people to buy a share in their home and buy more shares over time, as they can afford to. The scheme will be open to all households earning less than £80,000 outside London and £90,000 in London, and will relax and remove previous restrictions such as local authorities’ rights to set additional eligibility criteria.
  • 10,000 homes that will allow a tenant to save for a deposit while they rent. This will be in addition to 50,000 affordable homes from existing commitments.
  • At least 8,000 specialist homes for older people and people with disabilities.

There are further plans to accelerate housing supply:

  • Supporting the availability of appropriate land for housing, including by releasing public sector land with capacity for 160,000 homes representing a more than 50% increase on the Government’s record in the last Parliament.
  • Offering £2.3 billion in loans to help regenerate large council estates and invest in infrastructure needed for major housing developments.
  • Investing £310 million to deliver the first new garden city in nearly 100 years, at Ebbsfleet. This is part of a wider £700 million programme of regeneration at Barking Riverside, Brent Cross, Northstowe and Bicester Garden Town. Together these will support up to 60,000 new homes.

There are also plans to sell £4.5 billion worth of Government land and property:

  • Creating space for more than 160,000 new homes, and implementing a new commercial approach to land and property management.

Confirmation also given that there are continuing plans to devolve more power to more Regions.