Government uses Queen's Speech to pledge more housing
Published by Jon Land for 24dash.com in Housing and also in Central Government
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The government has used the Queen’s Speech to reiterate its support for the help to buy and right to buy schemes, while pledging to boost housing supply through revised planning laws, more public land sold off and new garden cities. The coalition said it wants to "get Britain building for our future".
"My government will increase housing supply and homeownership by reforming the planning system, enabling new locally-led garden cities and supporting small housebuilding firms," the queen announced in the House of Lords during a glittering ceremony reflecting centuries of pomp and tradition.
The queen said: "Legislation will be brought forward to sell high value government land, encouraging development and increasing housing. My ministers will continue to promote the help to buy and right to buy schemes to support home ownership."
Not everyone was happy. The Daily Telegraph said the government had "mounted a fresh assault on planning laws with developers given the power to push through applications without the need for council approval". The paper said planning experts had called this a "nuclear option".
Mark Henderson, chief executive of Home Group, said: "The government needs to have a clear and strategic approach to ensuring public land sales deliver genuine value...Public land sales are not a panacea. We need the right land, in the right place and for the right use.”
A spokesman for the Department for Communities and Local Government said: "Everyone needs the security and stability of a decent, affordable home, and more people who aspire to own their own home should have the opportunity to do so. That's why the government, through its long-term economic plan, is getting Britain building again, fixing the broken housing market left by the last administration and helping hardworking people get what they want."
Homeless Link chief executive Rick Henderson said: "Whilst we welcome today’s pledge to increase housing supply, we ask the government to guarantee that a proportion of this will be affordable housing. Whilst building new homes makes long-term financial sense, it is important that vulnerable individuals in immediate need of accommodation are given the help they need."
The Cabinet Office provided guidance notes on the Queen’s Speech to explain "what it means for you", noting that the bill will allow certain types of planning conditions to be discharged upon application if a local planning authority has not notified the developer of their decision within a prescribed time period. While critics saw this as an underhanded way of forcing through controversial development, the government hopes it will reduce unnecessary delay and costs.
The notes say the bill permits land to be transferred directly from arms-length bodies to the Homes and Communities Agency, reducing bureaucracy and managing land more effectively. The bill will also ensure that future purchasers of land owned by the Homes and Communities Agency and the Greater London Authority will be able to develop and use land without being affected by easements and other rights and restrictions suspended by the agency.
The government is committed to implementing a zero carbon standard for new homes from 2016, the cabinet office notes said. The Zero Carbon Home standard will be set at Level 5 of the Code for Sustainable Homes, but the legislation will allow developers to build to Level 4 as long as they offset through the allowable solutions scheme to achieve Code 5.
Jeremy Blackburn, RICS Head of Policy and Parliamentary Affairs, called it "a welcome prioritisation of investment in infrastructure over the coming year, but a frustrating lack of detail on the much talked about garden cities, broadband and immediate delivery of key infrastructure projects".
Home Group chief executive Mark Henderson, said: “The government needs to have a clear and strategic approach to ensuring public land sales deliver genuine value.
“There is a huge amount of public land that is too remote, has poor infrastructure and too difficult to develop. We need to see the right land released and parcelled with private land together to create zones for enterprise and housing. Bringing jobs and homes together will have the maximum benefit for the UK economy and individuals alike.
“Public land sales are not a panacea. We need the right land, in the right place and for the right use.”
Homeless Link chief executive Rick Henderson, said: “Whilst we welcome today’s pledge to increase housing supply, we ask the government to guarantee that a proportion of this will be affordable housing.
"Whilst building new homes makes long-term financial sense, it is important that vulnerable individuals in immediate need of accommodation are given the help they need.
“Our review of the homelessness sector indicates that nearly a third of homeless people are ready to move into a home of their own but are unable to due to the chronic shortage of affordable housing.
"We urge the government to work with builders and landlords to improve access to the housing market for homeless people and ensure an adequate supply of homes that are genuinely affordable.”