Housing and Planning Bill published

The Government has today published its much anticipated Housing and Planning Bill which sets out proposed changes to the planning system in England and includes plans to overhaul the housing sector with a view to achieving the delivery of more new homes.

Details published within the Bill, which had its first reading in the House of Commons today, include proposals to help first time buyers access the property market by placing a “general duty” on local planning authorities to carry out their planning functions with a view to “promoting the supply of starter homes”.  The Bill sets out that, much like in the case of affordable housing, this may be achieved by requiring developers to enter into a planning obligation to provide a certain number of starter homes or to pay a sum to be used by the authority for providing starter homes.  There will also be a requirement to include policy support for new Starter Homes through the preparation of new local plan documents.

Support is also reaffirmed for self-build and custom housebuilding with a new “duty to grant planning permission” for the development of enough serviced plots of land to meet the demand for self-build and custom housebuilding in a local authority’s area, as may arise within any given 12 month period (demand is to be evidenced by the number of entries added during that period to the Council’s register – click here for further details).

Further tightening up of the local plan process is also proposed, with local authorities required to ensure that they prepare local plan(s) which provide “full and effective coverage” both “geographically and with regard to subject matter” for their areas, with further powers to be conveyed to the Secretary of State to intervene for those authorities that fail to do so in a timely manner.

The Bill introduces a system for certain parcels of land suitable for housing to be granted “permission in principle” for the development of new homes. Land allocated on a new “Brownfield Register”, Development Plan Documents and/or Neighbourhood Plans and which are capable of supporting more than 10 dwellings should be included within local development orders prepared by each local authority which set out what type and scope of development will be granted permission in principle.

A “permission in principle” will mean exactly that, and applicants will then need to make a subsequent application for “technical details consent”.  Applicants will also be able to apply for “permission in principle” on schemes of 10 of fewer homes, and the Development Management Procedure Order will be amended to set out the procedure that applicants must follow.

The next stage now is for a second reading of the Housing and Planning Bill which will debate the general principles, and a date for the second reading debate has not yet been announced.  Beyond this the detailed mechanics of the proposals will then be refined through further sessions in the House of Commons and subsequently the House of Lords, prior to the Bill being presented for Royal Assent.