In the Queen’s speech today, the UK government set out its legislative plan for housing in a bid to help build more homes and increase homeownership.
In her speech, the Queen said the government will help more people to own their own home while enhancing the rights of those who rent. Laws to modernise the planning system, so that more homes can be built, will be brought forward, along with measures to end the practice of ground rents for new leasehold properties.
The government wants to drive significant deregulation as a catalyst for greater homeownership across the whole country, which will be welcomed by developers and homebuyers, Russell Gardner, the head of real estate at EY UK & Ireland, said.
“The bill is expected to reduce the ability of local councils to scrutinise individual planning applications on land approved for development – this may prove to be good news for reducing the impact of Nimbyism, but may draw concern over the loss of local democratic process. A careful balance will need to be struck,” Gardner said
The prime minister’s commitment to the biggest shake-up to the planning system in 70 years outlined in the Queen’s Speech is fantastic news for the housebuilding industry, said Dave Sheridan, the executive chairman at the UK’s modular housebuilder ilke Homes.
“The proposed changes will help the government achieve its ambitious targets of delivering 300,000 new homes a year and will bring much-needed stock to the housing market. While delivering more housing is vital, and rightly a central part of the reforms, policymakers must ensure that homes being delivered today are suitable for tomorrow.”
Sheridan said by reserving public land exclusively for factory-built homes, which, due to precision-engineering techniques and the utilisation of low-carbon technologies, are highly energy-efficient, the government will ensure that its housing policies are aligned with its climate ones.
“With the government focused on ‘levelling up’ the UK and bringing forward new legislation to modernise the planning system to achieve this, the property sector will undoubtedly play a fundamental role in supporting communicates across the country to build back better,” Melanie Leech, the CEO of British Property Federation said.
The government’s intention is to create a seismic shift in how local authorities plan for and deliver new housing, simplifying the process to put an end to inefficiencies and delays, Leech said.
“The planning system’s failures have long been a barrier to new investment and growth in places and communities, but this transition will put significant pressure on local authorities to produce up-to-date, fit-for-purpose local plans.”
Pete Ladhams, managing director at Assael Architecture, said the planning system was urgently in need of an overhaul, and “we welcome a shortened and more efficient planning process”.
“By eliminating the second tier of potential objections to planning, homes will be built much faster, greatly increasing our chances of reaching the government’s target of 300,000 homes a year.
“In growth areas, enabling the automatic planning approval of offices, homes, retail, hospitals and schools will allow architects to respond to the urgent needs of towns and cities swiftly. But, as architects, our role will now be to design these buildings and ensure they’re high-quality, contextually sensitive to local aesthetics, and that they are helping to form and strengthen communities and bridge the gap between existing residents and new developments.”
Andrew Shepherd, a managing director at the Goldman Sachs-backed modular housing company TopHat Solutions, said: “An overhaul of our dated planning system is well overdue, and the proposed changes outlined in the Queen’s speech will be crucial to hitting the government’s annual housing targets.
“The inefficiencies of the current system means it takes far too long to have planning approved, and the more time that passes, the longer people go without suitable housing. It’s all very well opposing new builds from a privileged, homeowning position, but these decisions have an enormous economic impact – both through low levels of affordability and the fact that the UK’s workforce becomes less mobile due to a lack of suitable housing across the country.”
Shepherd said a new and improved planning system should act as a catalyst for innovation and high levels of productivity in the housebuilding sector.
Mike Derbyshire, the head of planning at property consultancy Bidwells, said “While we’re pleased to see the government re-commit to sweeping reforms of the planning system, accelerated measures that translate these proposals into much-needed legislation will be vital. This isn’t the time for dither or delay.
“Buoyed by the Conservatives’ success in last week’s by-elections, Boris Johnson will of course want to make it easier to build homes, particularly in the north, as he looks to level-up the UK.
“However, the reforms need to be about much more than just delivering more homes – especially if policymakers want to secure the UK’s long term economic potential,” Derbyshire said.
Derbyshire said if the UK wants to become a life sciences powerhouse on par with the likes of the US, then planning laws must better align with the government’s innovation agenda.
“A piecemeal approach threatens to stall rapid economic growth in our knowledge corridors like the Oxford-Cambridge Arc, a location where the UK’s life-sciences sector has a critical mass.
“Unspecific and outdated planning laws, which are restricting the supply of purpose-built life science space, have led to lab rents rocketing to historic highs in Oxford and Cambridge as companies vie for limited space. That’s pricing innovative firms out of a market that should be thriving.
“To free up our fastest growing towns and cities, like Oxford and Cambridge, the government must consider development risks stunting their growth. That means reviewing the purpose of the Green Belt and championing opportunity areas for life sciences and technological advancement.”
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