If governments need to listen more, this maybe the best on record when it comes to housing.
Rarely has there been so much opportunity to respond to housing policy consultations, help make good housing and planning rules and be seen as thought leaders in the sector.
NPPF and Social Housing and Garden Towns
In March the Government intends to publish its updated National Planning Policy Framework. This will be a great opportunity to have your say in a wide range of planning matters which we discussed in detail last week.
The launch of the Social Housing Green Paper is slated for spring this year too, looking at a wide range of issues from safety (following the Grenfell tragedy) to service management, tenants’ rights, subletting and homelessness. Expect more detail to be trailed in the weeks ahead.
The five new garden towns announced in the Budget will almost certainly bring opportunity to comment given how controversial they will be for the areas affected.
Land value: capture the moment
But there are also great opportunities that Legis can help you with right now.
The Communities and Local Government Select Committee is currently looking for responses to their Land value capture inquiry (deadline 7 March) and Long term funding of adult social care inquiry (deadline 2 March).
The Committee tells me only one organisation has responded so far so stakeholders have a great opportunity to make themselves heard.
Responding to Select Committee inquiries represents a great opportunity for businesses as responses are published on the Parliament website and responders are often invited to give filmed oral evidence at Select Committee hearings.
The video clip from oral evidence at a Select Committee can be a great media marketing tool for professional firms to really demonstrate expertise in and commitment to their sector.
Select Committees want to hear a range of views from a range of stakeholders. As professional firms are underrepresented in housing policy inquiries, the CLG Select Committee will be particularly keen to invite professionals such as lawyers to contribute oral evidence.
Two MHCLG consultations are ongoing from the end of last year – one on Park Homes Legislation closes on 16 February while the call for evidence in relation to Rent a Room Relief closes on 23 February.
The Chancellor announced several consultations in the Budget last year. Here’s a summary of what to expect:
Longer tenancies. The Government will consult on the barriers to landlords offering longer, more secure tenancies to those tenants who want them.
Local Plan allocations. The Government will consult on strengthening policy to ensure that allocated land should be taken out of a local plan if there is no prospect of a planning application being made.
First-time buyer led developments. The Government intends to consult on a new policy whereby local authorities will be expected to permission land outside their plan on the condition that a high proportion of the homes are offered for discounted sale for first-time buyers, or for affordable rent. This will exclude land in the Green Belt.
Increasing housing density in urban areas. To ensure that brownfield and scarce urban land is used as efficiently as possible, the Government has said it will consult on introducing:
minimum densities for housing development in city centres and around transport hubs, with greater support for the use of compulsory purchase powers for site assembly
policy changes to support the conversion of empty space above high street shops
policy changes to make it easier to convert retail and employment land into housing
a permitted development right to allow commercial buildings to be demolished and replaced with homes.
Strengthening the Housing Delivery Test with tougher consequences where planned homes are not being built, by setting the threshold at which the presumption in favour of development applies at 75% of housing delivery by 2020
Expecting local authorities to bring forward 20% of their housing supply as small sites. This is intended to speed up the building of new homes and support the government’s wider ambition to increase competition in the house building market
Speeding up the development process by removing the exemptions from the deemed discharge rules. The Government wants to get builders on site more quickly, ensuring that development is not held back by delays in discharging planning conditions
Review of build out. The Government will set up a review panel, chaired by Sir Oliver Letwin, to explain the significant gap between housing completions and the amount of land allocated or permissioned, and make recommendations for closing it. The review will provide an interim report in time for Spring Statement 2018 and a full report at Budget 2018.
Land value uplift. In the 2017 Housing White Paper, the Government committed to respond to the CIL Review. MHCLG will launch a consultation with detailed proposals to reduce complexity and enable areas to implement a CIL more quickly.
Robert is a non-practising corporate and commercial solicitor with a background working as a justice policy researcher for David Cameron's Parliamentary Resources Unit. He was a candidate in the 2016 London Assembly elections.
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