Planning for Housing: Government to bring 'more transparency' to developer contributions

The government will aim to bring more transparency and certainty into the developer contributions process when it announces its position on the issue next month, a Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) official said today.

Planning for Housing: conference examined key issues facing the sector
Planning for Housing: conference examined key issues facing the sector

Harriet Fisher, policy team leader at the DCLG, told the Planning for Housing conference that the government’s preferred approach on the future of developer contributions would be to "try and speed up decision-making and create more certainty about the contributions developers will be expected to make".

The use of viability assessments is "adding complexity and uncertainty" to the planning process, she said, "leading to delays and reduced contributions to infrastructure and affordable housing."

Fisher confirmed that the government is still intending to make an announcement on its response to the review of the CommunityInfrastructure Levy (CIL) in next month’s autumn budget.

Fisher's comments come as communities secretary Sajid Javid told the Conservative Party conference that the government would need to be "smarter" about capturing land value uplift, and that the viability assessment system lacks transparency.

Iain Gilbey, partner at law firm Pinsent Masons, suggested to the Planning for Housing conference that a local infrastructure tariff, as recommended in the CIL review, would be a welcome change in terms of providing a "top slice" of funding for infrastructure, without affecting viability or reducing the funds available for affordable housing.

He suggested that this had been the initial objective of the CIL system, but that rates in London and the South East "had got very high, very quickly".

Gilbey told the conference that the growing influence of international capital in the housing industry means that any reform of developer contributions should avoid skewing the reward-risk balance too far towards the risk side for developers.

Warning against taking an "isolationist" approach, Gilbey said: "If the government shifts the risk-reward balance too far toward the risk side, there is the danger that international capital might choose to flow into the Eurozone or other high-value areas of the world."

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