Housing and Planning Act now in force
The contentious Housing and Planning Bill, first introduced in October 2015, has finally become law. Royal Assent for the new legislation was granted on Thursday 12th May 2016.
For many, the Act enshrines the current Government’s approach to the procurement of new housing and use of existing (social) housing assets. However, critics of the new legislation have said that the new law is damaging to family life and to communities……time will tell. We set out below a reminder of some of the key aspects of the new rules.
As an expert provider of advice to the affordable and wider housing sectors, Sharratts’ lawyers can discuss with you the likely impact of the new law on your business. For further advice, please contact:
Ben Halsey, telephone 01959 568014 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
or your usual Sharratts contact.
A glance through the contents section of the new statute (link below) provides a taste of its scope:
As is now well documented, the Act includes the following key topics which are of interest to social housing providers and developers:
the new Starter Homes regime, whereby planning authorities must allocate a specific number of starter homes within new development schemes. Starter Homes, along with other parts of the new Act, are a key element of the Conservative policy to increase homeownership, albeit many have argued that the new Starter Homes will be provided at the expense of those most in housing need. Starter Homes will be made available to applicants that fit the relevant age-range criteria and will be sold at a discount, and will then later be able to be sold at full market value. Starter Homes will be almost universally required on new developments, but they will not be required on Rural Exception sites. As with much of the new law, the devil of the new measures will be in the detail, which will be produced in secondary legislation.
Following the National Housing Federation striking a deal with central government for housing associations to voluntarily take up the Right to Buy, the Act includes the extension of the Right to Buy to housing associations, to be funded through a higher-value void levy on local authorities; and
Pay to Stay – the requirement for some tenants earning above certain thresholds to pay an increased rent. Originally, government wanted tenants to pay market rent where they earnt over a certain threshold. After objection from the House of Lords, a taper was introduced, being 15p in the pound for every pound over the threshold of £31,000 (£40,000 in London).
Lifetime tenancies – the policy here was to bring to an end the practice of granting lifetime tenancies for most tenants and replace them with fixed-term tenancies. After much debate, the result is fixed-term tenancies of “up to” 10 years (up to 19 years for those with children up to nine years of age).
Part 6 of the Act deals with amendments to the planning system, and introduce a new permission in principle for housing led developments, utilising a zoning concept that is intended to make it easier to get funding for new developments. Once you have secured permission in principle, a ‘technical details consent’ is issued (which amounts to full planning permission). A register of brownfield land will be maintained – interestingly, it’s intended that some of the land in the register will gain permission in principle simply by being included in the register.