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Starter home delivery doubt as Housing and Planning Bill enacted

Published: Friday, 20th May 2016

Developers cast doubt on government’s target of building 200,000 ‘starter homes’ by 2020…

Developers have cast doubt on ministerial hopes of seeing 200,000 ‘starter homes’ available in England by the end of the decade as the legislation underpinning the initiative made it onto the statute book.

Last week the government’s flagship Housing and Planning Bill received the Royal Assent and became an Act.

The British Property Federation welcomed this progress but pointed out that the secondary legislation for the starter homes regime had yet to be finalised and published.

“The fact that the regulations are still yet to be laid, however, casts into significant doubt whether the government will be able to achieve its promise of 200,000 homes by 2020.

The longer the government takes to iron out the details of this policy, the more that target slips into the distance. Spades are not likely to be in the ground until 2017 at the earliest, and time is certainly running out” commented Melanie Leech, BPF chief executive.

The Act sets out measures requiring brownfield registers, provides for pilot schemes allowing alternative providers to process (but not determine) planning applications, introduces the concept of permissions in principle and the streamlining of the arrangements for creating neighbourhood plans.

The legislation also makes key changes to the compulsory purchase regime and brings in measures to ensure local plans are in place by next year. Crucially the Act contains measures needed to realise the government’s radical housing agenda including the extension of the right to buy and the sale of higher value council housing.

The legislation suffered a series of defeats in the Lords, most of which were successfully countermanded in the Commons or after peers conceded ground during parliamentary ping-pong over the past fortnight.

Amendments allowing for more flexibility over starter homes provision and, separately, limited third-party rights of appeal were ultimately lost or dropped.

But there were many changes to the legislation. The Act now includes a provision to enable the Secretary of State to prepare a local plan for a local planning authority and to direct that it is brought into effect.

It explicitly excludes fracking development from being able to be granted permission in principle (PiP) and sets out the qualifying documents capable of granting PiP and their duration as well as how they can be modified and revoked.

The Act has a new clause which allows the Secretary of State to grant planning freedoms to local authorities to facilitate new housing. And the legislation places a statutory duty on the government to undertake a review of energy standards in new homes, and requires a review of the effectiveness of policy and legislation on sustainable drainage.

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Roger Milne