Housing White Paper

07th February 2017
By Mike Newton

The Housing White Paper Fixing our Broken Housing Market" was published at lunchtime today.

The main provisions have been leaked over the last week - some were trumpeted by Ministers this morning.  In his announcement to the House of Commons, the Secretary of State said there was no single bullet to solve the problem and that is evident in his collection of commendable but quite disparate measures which arguably lack proper co-ordination and don’t always seem fit for purpose.

The Government is proposing 4 steps to “fixing our broken housing market”.  For all of these steps, the White Paper is short on detail and dependent upon further proposals to give it meaning and precision.  The White Paper also tends to restate existing Government commitments.  We have concentrated on the first 2 steps as these have the most impact on planning and development.  The main provisions are set out below:

Step 1: Planning for the right homes in the right places

  • Green Belt release will only occur where authorities have examined all other reasonable options and there should be compensatory improvements to remaining Green Belt land – no real change of approach is indicated
  • A new requirement for development plans to be reviewed at least every 5 years
  • A new standardised approach to assessing housing requirements  - to be in place by April 2018
  • More emphasis on neighbourhood plans identifying and allocating sites – local authorities will also have to give neighbourhood plan groups a housing requirement figure to work to
  • Greater weight to using brownfield land for homes (through unspecified revisions to the NPPF)
  • Policies to support windfall site development
  • At least 10% of allocated sites in local plans should be sites of 0.5 ha or less
  • Avoiding low densities and building at higher densities in urban areas
  • An expectation that Councils will prepare a Statement of Common Ground to give greater effect to the duty to co-operate


Step 2: Building Homes Faster

  • Housing land supply to be agreed on an annual basis and fixed for one year
  • An attack on so called “land banking”  - Government is considering shortening the timescale to implement permissions from 3 years to 2 years and other measures
  • Repetition of Written Ministerial Statement stating that a neighbourhood plan will not be out of date unless there is a significant lack of land supply of housing in the wider local authority area (the WMS was more specific in referring to a 3 year land supply test)
  • An announcement on reforming developer contributions in the Autumn Budget 2017 following the CIL review
  • Introducing fees for planning appeals
  • Government will consider obligating utility companies to take account of proposed development
  • Restatement of Government intended measures on pre-commencement conditions
  • A new housing delivery test
  • A specific measure of persistent under delivery (i.e. a 20% buffer will apply where housing is below 85% of the requirement)
  • Further phased measures to trigger the presumption in favour of sustainable development at specified levels of under-supply


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