LocalismThe AJ's bloggers track the latest developments in the plan to hand power to the people
More than half of English councils have failed to draw up local plans in time for the NPPF’s introduction later this month
It promised to give local authorities the power to write their own development plans, but now experts say it is stifling growth and confusing an already murky planning process, reports Merlin Fulcher
The Localism Bill was given Royal Assent yesterday, opening the way for a ‘profound’ overhaul of the English planning system
Richard Rogers has hit out against the government’s proposed overhaul of the planning system claiming it could merge cities and ‘scar the countryside for generations’
The RIBA has urged architects to seize the localism agenda and help communities make the most of their new planning powers
The government has given MPs extra time to contribute to the debate over its controversial planning reforms following huge interest in the policy
The Localism agenda means more work and more proactivity, so getting the ‘key influencers’ on side early is critical, says Geoff Armstrong
Everybody wants to know what the impact of the government’s localism agenda will really be. Here are two, very different, explanatory guides
Craig Casci of Grid Architects argues that housing problems are a symptom of the broken planning system, not the lack of land or delivery
The planning inspectorate has issued guidance to its officers to start viewing the draft National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) as a ‘material consideration’ in their decisions
Chancellor George Osborne and communities secretary Eric Pickles have defended the governments’ proposed planning reforms amid fierce opposition from conservation groups
The fourth wave of councils to be given new neighbourhood planning powers has been named by the Department for Communities and Local Government
Lord (Tariq) Ahmad of Wimbledon launches today (29 January 2015) a new project designed to encourage pupils who have visited the First World War battlefields to share their experience with their local communities.
The Legacy 110 project will encourage the 8,800 students who are visiting the battlefields of Northern France and Belgium through the government-funded Battlefields Tours Programme to share their experiences with 110 other people.
If every student that goes on a tour achieves the Legacy 110 target, 880,000 people will have gained a deeper understanding of the First World War - the same as the number of British and Colonial soldiers who died during the war.
Speaking at the launch event at the Institute of Education, Lord Ahmad said:
People from all faiths and backgrounds fought for Britain during the First World War and over the next 3 years young people from every school in the country will learn about the sacrifices made by individuals and their communities to protect our liberty and our shared British values.
The men who gave their lives during the War will always be heroes and it is our responsibility to ensure their deeds are not forgotten. The Legacy 110 project will bring communities together to remember all of our shared history and help ensure that the next generation keep the memory alive of those who fought for our freedom.
Each student who successfully completes a Legacy 110 project will receive a certificate and specially-commissioned Legacy 110 pin badge.
To qualify, projects must be added to a designated online map detailing how many members of the local community have been engaged. Projects should also be included on the school website.
The Battlefields Tours Programme provides an opportunity for 2 pupils and 1 teacher from every state-funded secondary school in England to visit the Western Front battlefields of northern France and Belgium and take part in remembrance ceremonies over the 4 years of the First World War Centenary.
The project - part of the government’s centenary education programme - allows secondary school pupils to learn at first hand about the sacrifices made by the troops and the personal stories behind the soldiers of the First World War.
The First World War features in the history curriculum for 11- to 14-year-olds and can also be taught at primary.
The Legacy 110 project encourages participating pupils to share their experiences of visiting the battlefield sites of the Western Front through developing post tour community projects. These projects could include a study of local soldier, the role played by women, the contribution of Commonwealth forces, or even the impact upon sports such as football and rugby.
Legacy 110 is designed to encourage pupils to reach out into their local communities and create a lasting legacy for the First World War Centenary.
In return pupils will receive certificates, badges and the best projects will get national recognition through the Institute of Education’s programme website and special events designed to celebrate their achievements.
To find out more visit the Institute of Education website.
I would like to update Hon. Members on a series of announcements relating to local government.
Promoting joint working with NHS and councils this winter
The coalition government is committed to greater joint working between our local public services, to help save money and improve frontline services.
From April 2015, through the £5.3 billion Better Care Fund, we are starting to transform the way we deliver health and social care services, so that they provide a properly joined-up service for patients. It will prevent up to 160,000 A&E admissions and save over £500 million in the year ahead. We have approved 97% of the local Better Care Fund plans, and the final few plans are being reviewed now.
Ahead of its April introduction, and in light of the expected cold winter, to help further promote joint working, we are announcing a total of £37 million of additional funding to local authorities, so that they can step up their efforts to get people home as soon as they are ready to leave hospital, and avoid the need for people to go into hospital in the first place.
£25 million of this will help over 9,500 people with additional support packages to move from hospital either back to their home or into residential care; the further £12 million will mean up to 3,500 more people a week will get home from hospital more quickly this winter, with the local authority putting in place carers and equipment to meet their needs, freeing up much-needed hospital beds within the NHS.
Social services have to be part of the solution to the high demand on hospitals at the moment. We know that they can help by getting people home more quickly when it is safe to do so once they have been discharged. And we also know that the best social care can prevent people from having to go to A&E in the first place by supporting the elderly to live with dignity and independence at home.
Extending local business rate retention
The coalition government has introduced new financial incentives to councils to support locally-led enterprise and economic growth, as part of our programme of decentralisation and as part of our long-term economic plan.
Since 2013, local government keeps half of all business rate revenues and business rate growth. But we want to go further over time to increase these incentives.
Last year, we announced proposals to allow 100% local retention of business rates on shale oil and gas sites. In October, we published a technical consultation on draft regulations to implement this measure. We received 25 responses. A majority of those supported retention of 100% of business rates on shale oil and gas by local government. Having considered the responses we have decided to continue with our proposals as set out in the technical consultation. This policy will ensure that local councils that host shale oil or gas sites can benefit from millions of pounds in business rates paid. The measure could be worth up to £1.7 million for a typical site and will be funded by central government.
Shale will help to improve energy security, create jobs and meet carbon targets benefitting the UK through improved energy security and economic prospects. Local councils and communities have an important part to play in securing those improvements and we believe they should also share in the economic opportunities and benefits of shale. Tough environmental protections are in place, and are being further enhanced as announced to the House during the Infrastructure Bill on Monday (2 February 2015).
The associated secondary legislation has been laid before Parliament, and the responses to the consultation published. Subject to Parliamentary approval, the provisions will come into force in April 2015.
Promoting recycling and protecting the local environment
The coalition government is committed to making it easier for families to recycle, whilst avoiding unfair stealth taxes on hard-working people.
The government is aware that some local authorities have introduced, or plan to introduce, a charge to local taxpayers wanting to use civic amenity sites to dispose of household waste and/or household recycling. This is in clear breach of the previous legislative provisions passed by Parliament to ensure that such services are provide free of charge to householders.
Such short-termist stealth taxes will not only inconvenience local residents and reduce recycling, but will actively harm the environment, by encouraging fly-tipping and backyard burning. In the Republic of Ireland which has a series of taxes on household waste collection, the domestic burning of household rubbish is the biggest single source of the emission of toxic dioxins into the air. Such pollution crosses local authority boundaries, creating a wider externality and harm to the public good.
We have therefore published proposals to close down the legislative loophole and reinstate the original principle that Parliament established, that such public goods should be free to local taxpayers. A short, statutory consultation paper has been published, and subject to due consideration of the responses, we are minded to introduce the necessary secondary legislation in this Parliament.
Curtailing powers of entry
The coalition government has sought to stand up for civil liberties, including curtailing unnecessary state powers of entry, stopping the abuse of surveillance powers and curbs on the use of CCTV as ‘cash cameras’.
Using powers under the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012, we propose changing the law that officials from the Valuation Office Agency, an arm of HM Revenue and Customs, should no longer have automatic right of entry into homes and businesses in order to value them for Council Tax and business rates. A tribunal will now scrutinise and need to approve any use of the Valuation Office Agency’s power of entry. It is proposed to change the law though secondary legislation in this Parliament, subject to approval by Parliament. A statutory consultation has been published.
This complements the steps we have taken to stop a Council Tax revaluation in England and terminate the tax revaluation database to protect hard-working people from unwanted tax rises.
Increasing local accountability in decision making
The coalition government has introduced a series of measures to increase local accountability and transparency in local government. Decentralisation should be accompanied by greater local scrutiny.
We are now publishing a short technical consultation on proposals to reform, update and consolidate the ‘functions and responsibilities’ rules in local government law. These provide a framework and guidance on which part of a local authority should be ultimately responsible for taking decisions, across Committee, Cabinet and Mayoral systems, across the accumulated body of local government law from the 19th Century onwards.
The consultation includes proposals to make clear the important role of Full Council in relation to budget setting in non-mayoral cabinets, as well as greater scrutiny by Full Council on the controversial issues of parking and waste collection. This framework provides a democratic check and balance to prevent the abuse of executive power, and ensure elected local councillors are able to represent the views of their local residents.
Protecting an independent local press
The coalition government is committed to protecting an independent free local press. Localism and a healthy local democracy requires not just scrutiny by councillors, but also by the press and public.
The government has sought to take action on the practice by a small number of local authorities to publish local authority newspapers, which push out and undermine an independent press, and which constitute an inappropriate use of taxpayers’ money.
Further to the Written Ministerial Statement of 13 October 2014, Official Report, Column 2WS, we have warned a small number of councils about their breaches of the local government publicity code. Today, I can announce the conclusions to date of the review into the actions of the Royal Borough of Greenwich Council.
On 25 September 2014, the council was served written notice of a proposed direction requiring them to comply with the provisions in the March 2011 Code of Recommended Practice on Local Authority Publicity relating to frequency of publication of council newsletters, newssheets or similar publications.
Having had regard to representations received from the council about their publicity - specifically the newspaper produced by the council, to information available to him about the Royal Borough of Greenwich Council’s publicity, and to an equality statement about enforcing the 2011 Code of Recommended Practice on Local Authority Publicity, the Secretary of State today gave the Royal Borough of Greenwich Council notice of a direction that he proposes to give to the authority under section 4A of the Local Government Act 1986, directing them to comply as soon as practicable and in any event by 31 March 2015 with the provision in the March 2011 Code of Recommended Practice on Local Authority Publicity that: “Where local authorities do commission or publish newsletters, newssheets or similar communications, they should not issue them more frequently than quarterly”.
The council have 14 days to make written representation to the Secretary of State about the proposed direction. Following this, the Secretary of State will take his final decision about whether or not to issue the direction. Subject to due process and consideration, we are prepared to use our formal legal powers to intervene wherever it is in taxpayers’ interests and those of a free and fair local democracy if the local councillors wish to issue their own weekly material at their expense or those of their political party, nothing prevents this, other than prevailing electoral law.
We have been carefully considering the representations from those other local authorities that received written notices on 25 September 2014 before deciding what action to take, and will make further, separate announcements to the House shortly on the individual cases. Each decision will be taken on its own merits.
I will be placing copies of the documents associated with these announcements in the Library.
The government has found new funds to encourage more joint working between councils and the NHS.
In a bid to ease the pressure on the NHS during the current cold snap, the Department for Communities and Local Government and Department of Health have released an extra £37 million for councils to get people home from hospital more quickly and stop them from being admitted in the first place.
The Department for Communities and Local Government has this week provided £12 million to help join up health and social care services so that there aren’t delays for people who can be safely discharged and to avoid people needing to go to hospital in the first place (perhaps because of falls or flu).
The money will mean up to 3,500 more people a week will get home from hospital more quickly this winter, with the local authority putting in place carers and equipment to meet their needs, freeing up much-needed hospital beds within the NHS.
The extra cash is on top of the £700 million the Department of Health has found for the NHS to help manage its winter pressures and a further £25 million that councils have already been given this month to help speed up the discharge system.
It also comes ahead of the introduction in April 2015 of a £5.3 billion Better Care Fund, which will start to transform the way the NHS and councils work together to put people first and enable them live at home with dignity and independence for longer.
Local Government Secretary Eric Pickles said:
Social services have to be part of the solution to the high demand on hospitals at the moment. We know that they can help by getting people home more quickly when it is safe to do so once they have been discharged. And we also know that the best social care can prevent some people from having to go to A&E in the first place by supporting the elderly to live with dignity and independence at home.
From April our £5.3 billion Better Care Fund will start to transform the way we join up health and social care so that there aren’t separate systems and phone numbers for solving the same problems. It will prevent up to 160,000 A&E admissions and save over £500 million in the year ahead. But with hospitals under pressure in the cold weather this winter we have also found extra money to help out now.
Minister for Care and Support Norman Lamb added:
We planned for winter earlier than ever this year and we constantly review what additional measures we can take to ease the pressure on services. This new funding means that every local authority now has extra money to help tackle the pressures on hospitals. We know the NHS is busier than ever before, which is why we’ve given a record £700 million this winter for almost 800 more doctors, 4,700 more nurses and 6,400 more beds.
We have also provided councils with an extra £25 million to councils to provide additional social care packages to help people move out of hospital. The NHS and local authorities are already preparing joint plans to work together better, keep people well and avoid hospital admissions. This new money will help speed up that work this winter.
This press notice applies to England only.
The new £12 million funding is from Department for Communities and Local Government underspends in 2014 to 2015 and will be allocated to 87 councils through ring-fenced grants for social services immediately, weighted towards areas with significant demand for home care packages who have not previously received additional funding this winter.
Earlier this month the Department of Health allocated an additional £25 million to the 65 councils to with the highest level of delayed discharges from acute hospitals due to social care. The focus of this money is to provide additional social care packages which both help people move out of hospital and support them in regaining their independence – meaning that they are less likely to return to hospital in the future.
Through this money, the government estimates that over 9,500 people can be supported to move out of hospital either back into their home or into a residential care setting.
Both these allocations of funding are on top of the additional £700 million for the NHS announced in the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement in December to help deal with winter pressures in 2014 to 2015.
From April 2015 a joint £5.3 billion Better Care Fund (£3.8 billion of central government money topped up by at least £1.5 billion of local contributions) will be shared between local councils and NHS organisations to provide more dignity and independence for the elderly and vulnerable by supporting people to live at home, preventing A&E admissions and getting them home from hospital more quickly when they do have to be admitted.
In 2015 to 2016 this is projected to:
- prevent around 160,000 A&E admissions and 101,000 fewer unnecessary days spent in hospital by reducing delayed transfers of care
- keep 12,000 more older people still at home 3 months after being discharged from hospital and 2,000 more older people at home instead of going into care homes
- save over half a billion pounds
As part of its long-term plan to build a stronger economy and a fairer society, the government is investing a further £1 billion in local economies across England by expanding the successful Growth Deals.
Agreement has been reached with all 39 Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) to expand significantly the Growth Deals that were struck last July. The funding, to be devolved from central government into the hands of local authorities, businesses, colleges and universities will help to train young people, create thousands of new jobs, build thousands of new homes and start hundreds of infrastructure project, including transport improvements and superfast broadband networks.
Growth Deals are a revolution in the way our economy is run. For the first time ever, infrastructure, housing and other funding has been brought together in a single pot, and put directly into the hands of local authorities and businesses to invest with their knowledge of what is needed in their area to maximise their potential economic growth.
Prime Minister David Cameron said:
Giving local communities the power and the money to unlock growth and development and make the spending decisions that work for them is a key part of our long-term economic plan to secure a brighter future for Britain and ensure a recovery for all.
That’s what Growth Deals are all about, backing local people and investing in the infrastructure, housing and skills that will drive forward local economies, create more jobs and opportunities for hardworking people and supercharge all parts of our country.
The Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg, said:
A quiet revolution is underway in regions across the country and Growth Deals signal the death of the culture where Whitehall calls the shots. I’ve seen for myself the difference it makes to give local areas real power over skills, over business support, and over infrastructure spending.
The coalition government has been relentless in our efforts to sort out the public finances and set firm foundations for growth. Growth Deals help create a stronger economy and a fairer society by boosting local economies, and providing more jobs, better transport and affordable homes.
Greg Clark, Minister for Cities, said:
For Britain to fulfill its potential every part of the country must be an engine of growth. Our successful programme of City Deals and Growth Deals has put power and resources into the hands of local leaders. This billion-pound expansion of Growth Deals fuels the momentum that is now underway in our local economies.
Some of the major projects that are being taken forward as part of the expansion of Growth Deals are:
Improving infrastructure and unlocking developments which will create thousands of new homes
- £17 million investment in improvements to the A2300 Burgess Hill link road which will relieve congestion and enable a significant housing development and £15.8 million towards the multi-year transport project in Fareham and Gosport, which will improve access to this area and the Solent Enterprise Zone. In addition, this investment will support the proposed development of 6,000 homes at Welborne.
- The Tolgus and Barncoose junction improvement project (£5.9 million matched with £1.7 million) will create a gateway between Redruth and Camborne in Cornwall, unlocking access for over 600 homes, 5,000 square metres of commercial space and the Kresen Kernow cultural project.
- The first phase of the development of the Lincolnshire Lakes scheme that will ultimately deliver 6,000 new homes, delivering the first of 5 large lakes, surrounded by watercourses, sustainable drainage systems and green infrastructure corridors creating 310 new homes, 150 new jobs and £2 million leverage.
- Around £6 million to help to bring forward sites for housing and jobs in the Black Country, including £2.3 million in Sandwell, and £0.4 million towards the development of Walsall Waterfront.
Millions of pounds for projects around the country to boost the skills that local businesses say they need
These projects include:
- £8.7 million investment in Greater Birmingham and Solihull to create new training facilities, in Solihull and Birmingham, helping to address skills shortages in key sectors of the local economy
- £25 million (£5 million plus £20 million local match funding) towards the development of a National Maritime Systems Centre of Excellence in Portsmouth. This centre will focus on maritime and marine capabilities, safeguard and create jobs as well as increasing exports.
- £18.3 million for new innovation and training centres in New Anglia to allow more people to get the skills they need for jobs in growth sectors including energy, engineering, technology and advanced manufacturing. This includes £3 million for an aviation academy which brings together the public and private sectors to support young people to develop skills, including 80 apprenticeships a year to train staff in the full range of aviation skills. This not only helps businesses, but also young people who might struggle to get a job.
- £5 million for the Institute for Advanced Manufacturing at Nottingham University, which has match funding from the University and industry of £95 million. This project will train more than 3,000 manufacturing engineers and deliver research and knowledge exchange worth £60 million.
Investment in innovation and new technologies to enable cities and communities to compete globally
- £4.5 million to establish a Very Light Rail Innovation Centre in the Black Country which will help to create new public transport technologies for the future
- £2.6 million to support the development of a new technology to bring motorway and local road traffic systems together, using cloud based systems, to improve local journey times, by giving drivers live traffic information
- £4 million to expand Engine Shed in Bristol, the highly successful business incubation facility. This investment will provide further incubation and grow on space for high tech companies. This investment will be matched with £5 million of local funding.
Funding for broadband networks in areas where provision is not currently available, such as remote or rural areas
This includes £6 million for the Heart of the South West that will contribute towards tackling the next 5% of premises in hard to reach areas (matched with £6 million of local funding) and £3.6 million for Cumbria to extend availability of Superfast Broadband to an additional 5,000 premises.
Lord Heseltine said:
The first round of Growth Deals proved that this model can work well, and this further set of deals demonstrates the government’s commitment to driving growth. The work that this government is doing through these deals represents the most bottom-up approach to growth that I have seen in my life time, and the opportunity that it offers to local areas to drive their own agenda is huge.
Alex Pratt, Chair of the LEP Network Management Board said:
This expansion of growth deals with another £1 billion of projects is very welcome and a further vote of confidence in LEPs and the importance local decisions setting the priorities for economic growth. The partnership of local business and local authorities continues to strengthen as more responsibilities are passed to them and LEPs remain focused on delivering these projects for the benefit of local communities.
Notes to editors
- The Local Growth Fund was established in response to Lord Heseltine’s report No Stone Unturned.
- Each of the 39 Local Enterprise Partnerships was invited to submit by 31 March 2014 a strategic economic plan outlining their local priorities to maximise growth.
- In Investing in Britain’s Future, published alongside Autumn Statement 2013, the Local Growth Fund was committed to be at least £2 billion a year from 2015 to 2016. It is drawn from the existing budgets of central government departments.
- In 2015 to 2016, £1.1 billion of the Fund was already committed (principally to local transport projects). This left £930 million to be allocated competitively in 2015 to 2016. Plans for using this funding were assessed according to their ambition and rationale, value for money and deliverability.
- At Autumn Statement 2014 the government announced it would be awarding a further £1 billion of the Local Growth Fund. Today’s announcement sets out what Local Enterprise Partnerships intend to deliver with their additional allocation. As part of the process for agreeing the expansions to the Growth Deals, plans for using this funding were assessed according to their ambition and rationale, value for money and deliverability.
- LEPs will be permitted to exercise flexibility to substitute other projects if they have been rigorously assessed and offer comparable or better value for money. The stronger the track record of delivery, the greater the flexibility the LEP will have.
- Growth Deal discussions for future years will continue. Of the £12 billion Local Growth Fund, around £5 billion remains to be allocated.
- The Deals are part of the government’s long-term plan to boost growth around the country, following among other projects, the multi-billion pound Regional Growth Fund and the City Deals signed with 26 urban areas across the country.
- In June 2010 the government invited businesses and councils to come together to form Local Enterprise Partnerships whose geography properly reflects the natural economic areas of England. 39 Local Enterprise Partnerships have been created to decide what the priorities should be for investment in roads, buildings and facilities in their area.
- View a full list of Growth Deal allocations to local enterprise partnerships
I would like to update hon. Members on some of the recent actions that the coalition government is taking on housing delivery, as part of our long-term economic plan.
Helping councils build more homes
The government is pleased to announce the publication of the report on the independent review into the role of local authorities in housing supply, carried out by Natalie Elphicke and Councillor Keith House: “From statutory provider to housing delivery enabler: review into the local authority role in housing supply”.
The government welcomes the report, which found that local authorities could do more to play a central role in supporting the provision of new homes, across all housing tenures.
As set out in last year’s Autumn Statement, the government welcomes the core recommendation in the review that councils should become housing delivery enablers. The government also accepts the proposal that it should consult on extending the local government Transparency Code to cover all Housing Revenue Account land. We also accept other key recommendations including that the government monitors schemes to support small builders, and considers strengthening advice to encourage more councils to pro-actively support neighbourhood planning.
Additionally, the review makes a number of interesting recommendations for local authorities to pro-actively use existing powers, levers and opportunities, including periodically testing value for money from their contracts. Local authorities and local councillors will be able to consider how best to take these proposals forward within their existing resources. The review makes a number of further recommendations that government considers interesting, including some that need further detailed consideration with partners as appropriate. We will consider these proposals separately in due course.
Ministers would like to put on record their thanks to Natalie Elphicke and Keith House for their dedication and hard work in carrying out this review.
Rewarding councils for house building
On 16 December 2014, we announced provisional New Homes Bonus allocations for local authorities. The representation period closed on 14 January 2015. We received 12 representations. These have been taken into account in finalising the figures.
We will pay £1.2 billion of New Homes Bonus to local authorities in England. This includes instalments from the previous 4 years of the Bonus. These allocations bring the total amount of funding awarded under the New Homes Bonus since it began in April 2011 to £3.4 billion. This total recognises delivery of over 700,000 homes, and over 100,000 empty properties being brought back into use.
The Bonus will be paid in respect of 165,000 homes from October 2013 to October 2014 including 155,000 extra homes and 10,000 long-term empty properties brought back into use. The allocations also include an affordable homes enhancement, which totals £15 million in respect of 43,000 new affordable homes. The department is writing to local authorities confirming their final allocations and I am writing to all Members of Parliament and local authority leaders in England.
Building homes on brownfield land
The National Planning Policy Framework makes clear the need to prioritise building on previously-used brownfield land and more than two thirds of all new homes are now built on brownfield sites. But the government wants to go further – and has set a clear ambition to have local development orders in place for new homes on over 90% of suitable brownfield land by 2020.
Today (28 January 2015), we are announcing a multi-million pound fund to help deliver 200,000 new homes on brownfield sites across the country. This will enable councils to bring forward brownfield sites of 100 homes or more in their area – making it quicker and easier for developers to get work started.
Planning permissions granted through local development orders will give the green light for new homes to be built on those sites and will let developers get planning permission quickly – getting workers on site quicker and homes that communities want built.
The government will also publish proposals for the collection, sharing and reporting of information by local authorities on suitable brownfield land. Information would be updated at least annually, and would enable local residents to see the land that is available for new homes in their area – and to challenge councils to get work started.
Strengthening shared ownership
This week we will be publishing, with the Homes and Communities Agency, a technical consultation on proposals to streamline the resale of shared ownership properties. This builds on our commitment in the Autumn Statement to work with housing associations, lenders and the regulator to identify and lift barriers to extending shared ownership.
All shared ownership homes funded through the Affordable Homes Programme (outside London) include a pre-emption right in the lease which secures the housing provider’s ability to nominate a subsequent purchaser for current and former shared ownership homes.
In some cases, this right of pre-emption has raised barriers to selling on. It can lengthen the selling process; can deter buyers; and lenders can view it as hampering the ability to realise the value of the home for the householder, and hence restrict their lending in this market.
We will be seeking views on a range of options on the pre-emption right; evidence on the operation of the current pre-emption right; other methods used to retain homes within shared ownership at the time of selling on; and how we might streamline the process for selling on shared ownership properties and encourage the market for second-hand shared ownership homes.
Since the end of 2009, we have delivered over 700,000 new homes across England. There is still more to do to, but this illustrates how this government’s long-term economic plan is building more houses, giving more power to local communities, and helping people move on to and up the housing ladder.
Copies of the documents associated with these announcements will be placed in the Library of the House.
Housing and Planning Minister Brandon Lewis today (28 January 2015) announced a multi-million pound fund to help provide 200,000 new homes on brownfield sites across the country.
Housebuilding is a key part of the government’s long-term economic plan – with starts now at their highest since 2007.
Today’s £4.4 million fund will enable councils to bring forward brownfield sites of 100 homes or more in their area – making it quicker and easier for developers to get work started.
Unlocking development on brownfield sites
Since 2010 the government has pulled out all the stops to get the country building again – while at the same time keeping in place strong protections for green belt land.
The National Planning Policy Framework makes clear the need to prioritise building on previously-used brownfield land, while new measures make it easier to convert existing commercial, retail and agricultural buildings for residential use.
All this means more than two thirds of all new homes are now built on brownfield sites, while in the year to September planning permission was granted for 240,000 new homes.
But the government wants to go further – and has set a clear ambition to have local development orders granting planning permission for new homes in place on over 90% of suitable brownfield land by 2020.
Today’s £4.4 million fund will help towards this. Planning permissions granted through local development orders will give the green light for new homes to be built on those sites.
This will let developers get planning permission quickly – getting workers on site quicker, and homes that communities want built.
Housing Minister Brandon Lewis said:
Our efforts to get the country building again are working – housing starts are at their highest since 2007 and climbing. But we need to do more, delivering more homes while at the same time protecting our precious green belt.
That’s why today I’m taking steps that will help to make enough brownfield land available for 200,000 homes up and down the country, creating the homes and jobs communities want and need.
Publishing brownfield site data
Today, the government also published proposals for the collection and sharing of information by local authorities on suitable brownfield land.
Information would be updated at least annually, and would enable local residents to see the land that is available for new homes in their area – and to challenge councils to get work started.
The government’s proposals for sharing data on suitable brownfield land make clear that identified sites should meet 4 key criteria.
The sites should be:
deliverable – available for development now or in the near future
free of constraints – unless they should be readily overcome; contaminated land should also be excluded if there is clear evidence the clean-up costs would make development unviable
capable of development – in a condition and location that makes the site a genuine option for developers
capable of providing at least 5 homes
Other measures that have been introduced to get homes built on brownfield land include:
a package of measures to get empty homes back into use – meaning the numbers of empty homes are now at their lowest since records began
the development of a new garden city at Ebbsfleet on brownfield land, supported by an Urban Development Corporation and up to £200 million government funding
a programme to sell formerly-used, surplus public sector land – with the government well on track to provide enough land for 100,000 homes
a £150 million Estate Regeneration Fund to help kickstart and accelerate the regeneration of housing estates
The consultation on building more homes on brownfield land is published today.