Ten things you need to know about the housing white paper

Communities secretary Sajid Javid yesterday unveiled the government's Housing White Paper. Here are ten things you need to know about the key planning measures in the document.

New homes: Housing White Paper aims to fix 'broken' market (picture: Jon Jordan)
New homes: Housing White Paper aims to fix 'broken' market (picture: Jon Jordan)

This article was published in February 2017. Details below were correct at time of publication. 

1. Mandatory Starter Homes requirement dropped
The white paper reveals that ministers have dropped plans to impose a legal duty on councils to ensure provision of at least 20 per cent Starter Homes on all reasonably sized development sites. The document confirms that the government will not introduce a statutory requirement for Starter Homes "at the present time". MORE.

2. Standard method for housing supply assessment backed
The white paper reveals that ministers are going ahead with plans to put the assessment of housing requirements on a standard footing across England. Responding to one of the key recommendations of last spring’s Local Plans Expert Group’s report, the white paper says the government will consult on options for introducing a standardised approach "at the earliest opportunity this year". MORE.

3. Review recommends CIL shake-up, but no decision yet from ministers
A government-commissioned review published alongside the white paper recommends that the Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) should be replaced with a "hybrid system" of a low level tariff for all developments and section 106 for larger developments. The white paper says that the government "will examine the options for reforming the system of developer contributions including ensuring direct benefit for communities" and will respond to the CIL review and "make an announcement at Autumn Budget 2017". MORE.

4. Fees to rise by at least 20% from July
The white paper reveals that 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". It adds that the government is minded to all an increase of a further 20 per cent "for those authorities who are delivering the homes their communities need and we will consult further on the detail". MORE.

5. Measures to boost build out rates
The white paper says that 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. It added that the government is "interested in views on whether an applicant’s track record of delivering previous, similar housing schemes should be taken into account by local authorities when determining planning applications for housing development". MORE.

6. Details of housing delivery test set out
The white paper sets out details of how the housing delivery test will work. It says that the test will "ensure that local authorities and wider interests are held accountable for their role in ensuring new homes are delivered in their areas". According to the white paper, the first assessment period for the 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. MORE. 

7. Response to rural planning review unveiled
The government is to consult on a new agricultural to residential permitted development right and will amend planning guidance regarding farmshops, polytunnels and on-farm reservoirs to "better support" such development, documents published alongside the white paper reveal. The announcement is contained in the government’s response to a call for evidence on a review of rural planning, which was held last year. MORE.

8. Upward extensions permitted development right ruled out
A document published alongside the white paper reveals that the government will not bring forward a permitted development right to make it easier for developers to add upward extensions to buildings in London. Instead, it says, the National Planning Policy Framework will be amended to "support the delivery of additional homes by building up", across the country, not just in London. MORE.

9. Backing for Build to Rent
The government intends to amend planning policy to make it easier for developers of purpose-built developments for the rental market to offer affordable private rented homes instead of other forms of affordable housing, the white paper reveals. A consultation document published alongside the white paper says that a revision to the National Planning Policy Framework will make it explicit that "affordable private rent can count as a form of affordable housing, and that it is also particularly well suited to Build to Rent". MORE.

10. New tests for neighbourhood planners
Neighbourhood planners that hope to benefit in the long-term from recently introduced protections intended to ensure that their policies are not ignored would need to ensure that their plans pass some new tests, the white paper says. It explains that, to qualify for protections set out in December’s written ministerial statement on neighbourhood plans, neighbourhoods "should be able to demonstrate that their site allocations and housing supply policies will meet their share of local housing need". MORE.

The Planning for Housing Northern Edition conference will consider issues including local plan changes, green belt release and Starter Homes. For more information, please visit PlanningResource.co.uk/planningforhousingnorth

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