Our thoughts

Housing and Planning Bill
21st October 2015

The Housing and Planning Bill introduced to Parliament on October 13th aims to drive up the rate of housebuilding in England to an average of 200,000 new homes per year, from 133,000 per year over the past decade.

Changes to the planning rules are the bill’s main focus. Local planning authorities will have to produce plans for new homes by 2017 or the government will ensure plans are produced for them. Councils will also face a new duty to determine 50% of minor planning applications within statutory time limits.

The bill emphasises brownfield development and imposes a new duty for local authorities to keep brownfield registers of suitable land. It alters the compulsory purchase regime with a view to allowing local authorities to drive forward brownfield development.

We are a little worried at the bill’s implications for our rural heritage, despite the so called safeguards for the Green Belt that it highlights. Of course the bill meets a public need. Even the Council for the Protection of Rural England hesitates to criticise the aims of this legislation, preferring to cast doubt on the likelihood of those aims being achieved. ‘Housing Bill won’t help build homes’ is the latest headline on the CPRE website. We beg to differ. We think the bill will help to build homes, and will in the process, for all the emphasis on brownfield sites, result in an accelerated erosion of rural England, although not to the extent envisaged in Bill Bryson’s alarmist article in The Times on the 30th September, thanks to his and other people’s campaigning.

We expect some impact on prices from the Housing Bill, although mitigated if the economy remains buoyant. Prices at the top end of the market will continue to come under pressure, though prices below £1m should remain relatively strong. Increasing demand for properties in or close to attractive market towns will continue. Reducing costs of moving home would go a long way towards further reinvigorating the market.