Eye-catching planning policies to watch post-Election

Ahead of polling day on Thursday, the GK Intelligent Planning team has pulled together some of the eye-catching manifesto pledges on housing and planning from the Conservatives, Labour and the Liberal Democrats. While there is an expectation that the Conservatives will form a new government, it is important developers understand the policy context for the next Parliament.

Conservatives

  • There is a pledge to fix the “dysfunctional” housing market by building enough homes to meet demand; this includes maintaining the 2015 commitment to deliver a million homes by the end of 2020 and 500,000 additional homes by 2022. The Conservatives also commit to building 160,000 houses on Government land.
  • The manifesto makes clear that the Conservatives are keen to support specialist housing such as multigenerational homes and housing for older people.
  • In addition, they pledge to introduce new fixed-term social houses, which will be sold privately after 10 to 15 years with an automatic Right to Buy for tenants, the proceeds of which will be recycled into further homes.
  • They will reform Compulsory Purchase Orders to make them easier and less expensive for councils to use and to make it easier to determine the true market value of sites.

GK Intelligent Planning insight: The Government is already behind on building a million new homes by 2020, so it is ambitious to re-emphasise this pledge. Expect to see a drive in homes that are quick to build (including pre-fab and modular) as they struggle to meet this target.

The provision to build more homes for older people is a repeat of previous government announcements, and while this is a good pledge to make for the older generations and could free up larger homes for families, some “last time buy” properties are already being built. The uncertainty over how much of the value of your home will count towards social care could also mean people are hesitant about selling larger properties to downsize in retirement – at least in the short term.

The Labour Party

  • In Government, the Labour Party would aim to build at least 100,000 council and housing association homes a year for “genuinely affordable” rent or sale.
  • They would establish a new Department for Housing to focus on tackling the housing crisis. Further, their aim would be to improve the number, standards and affordability of homes, and use a revamped Homes and Communities Agency as the delivery body.
  • Labour would develop a new generation of New Towns to build the homes we need and avoid urban sprawl.
  • The manifesto also includes a commitment to make the building of new council homes a priority through the National Transformation Fund.

GK Intelligent Planning insight: As we may have expected, the focus is clearly on middle and low income families who struggle to get on the property ladder or use the social rented sector. Unlike the Conservatives, who always included “starter homes” and “first time buys” for middle income families in their housing targets, Labour say the priority should be council homes. This message may be received well in London where waiting times in the sector rented sector can be eye-watering. While this is the focus, the commitment to build ‘New Towns’ is similar to the Conservatives’ ‘Garden Cities’ drive, showing Labour would at least try and speed up the planning process in Middle England to chase their ambitious housing target.

Liberal Democrats

  • The party would pass a new Green Buildings Act to set new energy-efficiency targets, including a long-term ambition for every home in England to reach at least an energy rating of Band C by 2035 and ensure that at least 4 million homes are made highly energy efficient (Band C) by 2022.
  • They would also seek to lift the borrowing cap on local authorities and increase the borrowing capacity of housing associations so that they can build council and social housing and require local plans to take into account at least 15 years of future housing need.

To support renters the Liberal Democrats have promised to:

  • Introduce a new Rent-to-Own model where rent payments give tenants an increasing stake in the property, owning it outright after 30 years.
  • Help young people into the rental market by establishing a new Help-to-Rent scheme to provide government-backed tenancy deposit loans for all first-time renters under 30.

GK Intelligent Planning insight: A clear focus on issues that were long Lib Dem “close to the heart” policies. The emphasis on green and energy efficient homes is noticeable throughout the manifesto section on housing, as are the references to young people struggling to rent or buy. Although we don’t expect the Lib Dems to be in government, they are keen to help younger generations, and may seek to amend future legislation on housing to facilitate this focus.

 

For more information, and post-Election analysis on what it means for the housebuilding sector, please contact info@gkstrategy.com

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