Independent review of build out: final report

Sir Oliver Letwin's final report has been published on how to close the significant gap between housing completions and the amount of land allocated or permissioned.

The report concludes that the government should:

  • adopt a new set of planning rules specifically designed to apply to all future large sites (initially those over 1,500 units) in areas of high housing demand, requiring those developing such sites to provide a diversity of offerings, in line with diversification principles in a new planning policy document; and
  • establish a National Expert Committee to advise local authorities on the interpretation of diversity requirements for large sites and to arbitrate where the diversity requirements cause an appeal as a result of disagreement between the local authority and the developer.
  • provide incentives to diversify existing sites of over 1,500 units in areas of high housing demand, by making any future government funding for house builders or potential purchasers on such sites conditional upon the builder accepting a Section 106 agreement which conforms with the new planning policy for such sites; and
  • consider allocating a small amount of funding to a large sites viability fund to prevent any interruption of development on existing large sites that could otherwise become non-viable for the existing builder as a result of accepting the new diversity provisions.
  • introduce a power for local planning authorities in places with high housing demand to designate particular areas within their local plans as land which can be developed only as single large sites, and to create master plans and design codes for these sites which will ensure both a high degree of diversity and good design to promote rapid
    market absorption and rapid build out rates;
  • give local authorities clear statutory powers to purchase the land designated for such large sites compulsorily at prices which reflect the value of those sites once they have
    planning permission and a master plan that reflect the new diversity requirements (with guidance for local authorities to press the diversity requirements to the point where they generate a maximum residual development value for the land on these sites of around ten times existing use value rather than the huge multiples of existing use
    value which currently apply); and
  • give local authorities clear statutory powers to control the development of such designated large sites through either of two structures a. the local authority could use a Local Development Company (LDC) to carry out this development role by establishing a master plan and design code for the site, and then bringing in private capital through a non-recourse special purpose vehicle to pay for the land and to invest in the infrastructure, before "parcelling up" the site and selling individual parcels to particular types of builders/providers offering housing of different types and different tenures; or b. the local authority could establish a Local Authority Master Planner (LAMP) to develop a master plan and full design code for the site, and then enable a privately financed Infrastructure Development Company (IDC) to purchase the land from the local authority, develop the infrastructure of the site, and promote the same variety of housing as in the LDC model.

Date: October 2018 Date of publication

Author: Sir Oliver Letwin

This item updates DCP section 7.13

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