The Housing & Planning Bill completed the Committee stage in the House of Commons after the New Year with a marathon 2am finish. We consider the impact on social housing of Clauses 62-77 of the Bill.

VOLUNTARY RIGHT TO BUY (CLAUSES 62-66)

What is proposed?

A non-statutory, voluntary, Right to Buy (“RTB”) for housing association tenants. Reflecting the Government’s mantra on home ownership, it falls short of the “dramatic extension” heralded in the Queen’s Speech, which had envisaged an extension to the statutory RTB. Instead, we have the result of a compromise struck with the National Housing Federation.

It will require the ‘one for one’ replacement of stock sold under the voluntary RTB scheme. A detailed operational document is expected following the conclusion of negotiations on detailed implementation.

So what for planning?

Key questions for planning include:

  • the proposed discretion for housing associations over whether to sell, including protection for properties in rural locations – how will this work in practice and could it blunt the teeth of the provision?
  • whether this scaling back from the original, mandatory proposal will meaningfully contribute to housing shortfall in the way Government intends and, fundamentally, whether there exists sufficient and appropriate supply in any event
  • will it lead to a further depletion of social housing stock –  is ‘one for one’ replacement realistic?
  • how the scheme plays out will affect how authorities plan to meet affordable needs and provide replacement stock in the Local Plans they will be ‘encouraged’ to prepare by early 2017?