Planning Alert
november 8



The Issue

Housing delivery remains stubbornly slow despite support from the Government.

The Government remains supportive of the house building industry and seeks delivery but unfortunately, the policy and initiatives remain mixed and output stable at best.

A £3 billion Home Building Fund managed by the Homes and Community Agency on behalf of the Government is intended to increase the number of new homes being built in England providing loan funding as development finance and infrastructure finance. 

The Autumn Statement on 23 November is likely to add to the push for greater delivery with the prospect of a housing white paper to be published about the same time and continuation of the relentless round of planning reforms intended to get more homes built.

There has been concerns expressed in the media over land banking by housebuilders and developers. 

Some commentators have interpreted results and trading updates by PLCs as admissions that land for thousands of potential homes are being tightly controlled. 

In view of the price of land for residential development it would be unusual for housebuilders and developers to delay building where an implementable planning permission exists.  Put simply the cost of holding on to consented land is not attractive. 

There is a myriad of reasons for delay in delivery but among the top of the planning list is pre-commencement planning conditions.

The Neighbourhood Planning Bill seeks to support more housebuilding and provide more local say over development.  Many in the industry will consider it is counter-intuitive to expect to increase the delivery of housing whilst increasing local, especially neighbourhood-level, control over development.

A consultation on the proposed measures for pre-commencement planning conditions ended at the beginning of November and so time will tell how responses might shape progress of the Bill which is winding its way through Parliament towards Royal Assent.


Bidwells' View 

Delivery of more housing is a Government priority which is shared by most developers but it takes time for policy to be put into effect and for output to improve.

Planned improvements to the use of pre-commencement planning conditions are to be welcomed but clarity and speed is required to avoid exemptions and delays impacting on the good intentions.

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