Chancellor George Osborne has stated "It is clear that continued strong growth in house building will be needed in the years to come to meet housing needs and ensure market stability. .... The government is taking action to address these supply side constraints, addressing delays at every stage of the planning process, incentivising improved performance and reducing costs for developers."
John Silvester, Society Spokesperson, has commented on the main planning-related statements:
- consulting on measures to improve plan making, including introducing a statutory requirement to put a Local Plan in place. "For far too long some authorities have been abrogating their responsibilities in getting a plan in place; this measure should result in 100 per cent coverage."
- legislating to treat planning conditions as approved where a planning authority has failed to discharge a condition on time, and using legislative measures to strengthen the requirement for planning authorities to justify conditions that must be discharged before building can start. "Any new measures to help speed up the planning process and deliver growth are to be welcomed; provided that due diligence and environmental considerations are not sacrificed."
- consulting on proposals to reduce the number of applications where unnecessary statutory consultations occur and piloting a single point of contact for cases where conflicting advice is provided., "Many LPAs have been using the device of development teams for some time providing a coordinated response/discussion point for applicants."
- consulting on a new 10-unit threshold for section 106 affordable housing contributions. "Some authorities have already put CIL charging in place for all new development. Furthermore, not charging for residential devlopment under 10 dwellings cannot be justified as they place just as much of a burden on infrastructure as any other residential development. This will now fall upon the local authority to subsidise."
- payments from the New Homes Bonus could be withheld in instances where councils have objected to development and approvals are granted on appeal. "This will only be fair in instances where Councils have been found to have acted unreasonably at appeal and no costs awarded against them; otherwise they could be penalised twice."
- consult on plans to make it easier for changes of use from 'retail to restaurant or assembly and leisure uses' as part of a series of measures to boost town centres. "This would be a welcome boost to town centres, but should be subject to there being no undue loss of retail in primary shopping areas."
- launch a review into the role local authorities can play in supporting overall housing supply. "LAs will want to do all they reasonably can to help deliver housing development while safeguarding the essentail characteristics of their area."
- consult on plans to raise the threshold for local authorities to be placed in 'special measures' for poor planning performance from the current 30 per cent of decisions made on time to 40 per cent. "Continuing poor performance cannot be condoned, but the raising of the threshold is to be welcomed."
Read the Autumn Statement here