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Parliamentary deadlock over housing and planning bill nearly over

Published: Thursday, 12th May 2016

Housing and planning bill nears completion of its legislative journey. Update: The Lords did not insist on its final proposed amendment, Royal Assent is scheduled for today (12 May)...


Update:

The Lords did not insist on its final proposed amendment over the regime for the sale of higher-value council homes. After MPs voted to reject the amendment, Lord Kerslake withdrew it in the Lords debate yesterday afternoon (11 May). This means the bill is now set for the final stage of Royal Assent when the bill will become an Act of Parliament. Royal Assent is scheduled today (12 May).


After a protracted period of parliamentary ‘ping pong’ between the Lords and the Commons, the government’s flagship housing and planning bill was close to completing its legislative journey this week with just one issue still in contention between the two Chambers.

This week Lord Kerslake won support from peers after a very close division for an amendment over the regime for the sale of higher-value council homes.

The cross bencher explained that the amendment “seeks to put it beyond doubt that sufficient funding will be available to local authorities to deliver at least one new affordable home for each higher-value property sold, in London this will be at least two for one.

“Secondly, it gives a local authority the opportunity, where it can demonstrate a need for social rented housing in its area, to make the case for the Secretary of State to consider.”

Lord Kerslake, former permanent secretary at the Department for Communities and Local Government and now chairman of the Peabody Housing Trust, added: “There are few parts of this bill that have caused such concern at local level and, indeed, where the impacts are so serious.

“Shelter has calculated that to deliver the estimated £4.5bn of receipts identified by the government, 23,500 vacant council properties a year will need to be sold.

“This equates to nearly a third of all stock that will become vacant. It follows that it is absolutely vital to be clear in the bill how this replacement will be delivered in practice.”

He went on: “One way or another we need to be clear whether the funds will be there to deliver the policy in the bill.”

This week the cross bencher reluctantly dropped his amendment on Starter Homes, after much pressure from inside the Lords to stop acting “unconstitutionally”. Peers were reminded that the government hadn’t concluded its consultation on how the policy would be administered.

The Lords also withdrew their support for a third party right of appeal involving neighbourhood plan issues, as well as an amendment which would’ve meant requiring many more so-called sustainable drainage systems (SuDS) for new developments.

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Roger Milne