The Government has introduced into the House of Commons its new Housing and Planning Bill. Reading the press reports, it would be easy to gain the impression that the new Bill is just about allowing tenants to buy their council or housing association home. Important as this aspect of the Bill is, the proposed legislation covers many more aspects of housing and planning law. These include changes in relation to:
- Action against rogue landlords;
- Housing regulation;
- Neighbourhood and local planning; and
- Compulsory purchase procedures.
The background to the changes was set out in the rather enthusiastically titled white paper “Fixing the foundations: creating a more prosperous nation”. This set out a 15-point plan that the government says will boost the UK’s productivity growth by encouraging long-term investment, and promoting a dynamic economy. It set out the government’s long-term strategy for tackling the issues that it says matter most for productivity growth. The new Bill is just part of this process and is the first test of whether it is as easy to produce practical and effective legislative framework as it is to produce a snappily named document.
The scale of the task should not be underestimated. As the recent debate over plans to build 1500 new homes on the Blenheim Estate in Woodstock demonstrated, trying to find a site for development that commands both public and local support is not easy. One person’s liberalisation of planning policy is another person’s attack on the green belt. Similarly one person’s “meeting the aspirations of ordinary people for home ownership” is another’s “robbing our children of the chance of an affordable home.”