In a statement to the House of Commons this lunchtime, communities secretary Sajid Javid said that the country’s housing market is "broken", with the symptoms "being felt by real people in every community". "Its root cause is simple," said Javid. "For far too long, we have not built enough houses."
Javid told MPs that the white paper will "introduce a new way of assessing housing need".
"Many councils work tirelessly to engage their communities on the number, design and mix of new housing in their area," Javid said.
"But some of them duck the difficult decisions and fail to produce plans that actually meet their housing need. It is important that all authorities play by the same rules."
The Housing White Paper says that the government will "consult on a new standard methodology for calculating ‘objectively assessed need’, and encourage councils to plan on this basis".
The document also heralds a major shake-up of the government’s Starter Homes initiative.
It says that the government has "listened to concerns" that its original plans for a mandatory requirement of 20 per cent Starter Homes on all developments over a certain size will impact on other affordable homes.
"Rather than a mandatory requirement for Starter Homes, we intend to amend the NPPF to introduce a clear policy expectation that housing sites deliver a minimum of 10 per cent affordable home ownership units," the white paper says.
"It will be for local areas to work with developers to agree an appropriate level of delivery of Starter Homes, alongside other affordable home ownership and rented tenures," the document adds.
The white paper also says that the government will consult on introducing a fee for making a planning appeal.
"Unnecessary appeals can be a source of delay and waste taxpayers’ money," the document says.
The government is interested in views on whether it is possible to design a fee in such a way that it does not discourage developers from bringing forward legitimate appeals, the white paper adds.
The document also reveals that:
- the first assessment period for the government’s new "housing delivery test" will be for the financial years 2014/15 to 2016/17. "From November 2017, if delivery of housing falls below 85 per cent of the housing requirement, authorities would in addition be expected to plan for a 20 per cent buffer on their five-year land supply, if they have not already done so," the document says.
- local authorities will be able to increase fees by 20 per cent from July 2017 if they "commit to invest the additional fee income in their planning department"
- the government will respond to a review of the Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) and "make an announcement at Autumn Budget 2017". The review, published today alongside the white paper, recommends that CIL should be replaced with a "hybrid system" of a low level tariff for all developments and section 106 for larger developments.
- the government intends to encourage "more active use of compulsory purchase powers to promote development on stalled sites for housing" as part of a raft of measures to ensure that planning permissions are built out.
- the government proposes to amend planning policy so that local planning authorities are expected to provide neighbourhood planning groups with a housing requirement figure, "where this is needed to allow progress with neighbourhood planning". The government will make further funding available to neighbourhood planning groups from 2018/2020, the white paper says.
- the government proposes to amend and add to national policy to make clear that "authorities should amend green belt boundaries only when they can demonstrate that they have examined fully all other reasonable options". It adds that, "where land is removed from the green belt, local policies should require the impact to be offset by compensatory improvements to the environmental quality or accessibility of remaining green belt land"
- the government will legislate to allow "locally accountable" New Town Development Corporations to be set up, enabling local areas to use them as the delivery vehicle for garden communities if they wish to
- this summer, the Homes and Communities Agency will be relaunched as "Homes England", with a renewed purpose - "the ambition to get more homes for communities across all housing tenures, put in infrastructure to unlock housing capacity and attract small builders and new players to diversify the market on a sustainable basis"
- the white paper encourages higher densities. It proposes to amend the NPPF to make it clear that plans and individual development proposals should "make efficient use of land and avoid building homes at low densities" and "address the particular scope for higher-density housing in urban locations that are well served by public transport … that provide scope to build over low-density uses … or where buildings can be extended upwards by using the ‘airspace’ above them"
Housing White Paper: Fixing our broken housing market is available here.