Housing and Planning Bill

Housing and Planning Bill - summary at Royal Assent, 13 May 2016

Higher value council homes

  • The Act requires councils to sell higher value housing as it falls vacant. We worked with parliamentarians to put on the face of the Bill a requirement to ensure that where the Government makes an agreement with a local authority outside London about building new homes, at least one new affordable home is provided for each dwelling that is assumed to be sold.
  • Parliamentarians secured a commitment from the Government that the change of wording from ‘high' to ‘higher' value would not be used to raise additional funds from local government.
  • Peers sought to include a clarification that councils would be able to retain sufficient receipts from the sales to fund the provision of a replacement property, but this was overturned.

Secure tenancies

  • Enabling local authorities to grant longer-term tenancies of up to 10 years in certain circumstances with potential for longer tenancies for families with children. The legislation originally limited this to five years, with no concession for families with children.

Starter homes discounts

  • The Government will introduce in regulations restrictions around the resale of Starter Homes so that owners cannot ‘cash in' the discount after a few years. The regulations may prevent the home being sold at full price for a specified period of time, or could require the seller to make a payment to the Secretary of State, local planning authority or another specified person.

Pay to stay

  • For tenants above the high income thresholds (‘pay to stay'), rent increases will be tapered. Every £1 they earn above the threshold will mean a 15p increase. The income thresholds will increase annually in line with CPI. Amendments that would have increased the income threshold to £40,000 (and £50,000 in London) were overturned.
  • The Government committed to councils being able to keep the costs of administering pay to stay and to consider exemptions where the costs outweigh the additional rent collected.

Competition in processing planning applications

  • The Government will carry out time-limited pilots on competition in processing planning applications, which will be fully evaluated.

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Housing and Planning Bill - summary at Royal Assent

Housing and Planning Bill - consideration of amendments, May 2016

Key messages

  • Local government can play a key role in building more homes. Local authorities should be able to develop a locally responsive mix of housing tenure that works towards supporting home ownership, expanding stock where it is most needed and meeting demand, while reducing welfare spending.

  • Starter Homes: A number of welcome changes have been made in the House of Lords to strengthen the Bill, including giving local authorities discretion over the number of Starter Homes built in their area alongside affordable homes to rent. This will be critical for ensuring new housing meets the specific needs of the community.

  • High value housing: Councils should be free to manage their housing assets and to retain 100 per cent of receipts to invest in new and existing homes. As a minimum all councils should retain sufficient funds to replace each home sold on a like-for-like basis, which will be critical for protecting affordable homes communities desperately need. 

  • High income tenants: The option for councils to increase rents for tenants should be voluntary for councils and not mandated. The Government must follow through on its commitment to look at local discretion where the administrative costs outweigh the additional rent collected. We support proposals to increase to the higher income definitions, and a taper to protect work incentives.

  • Planning: An effective democratically-led planning system is critical to good place-making that drives growth and prosperity and delivers the homes the country needs. In particular, we support amendments to the Bill which would enable local planning authorities to require affordable housing contributions from smaller developers.

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LGA Briefing - Housing and Planning Bill - consideration of amendments


Housing and Planning Bill House of Lords, Third Reading, 27 April 2016

Key messages

  • Local government can play a key role in building more homes. Local authorities should be able to develop a locally responsive mix of housing tenure that works towards supporting home ownership, expanding stock where it is most needed and meeting demand, while reducing welfare spending.
  • Starter Homes: A number of welcome changes have been made at Report Stage to strengthen the Bill. These include increasing the restriction on the resale of Starter Homes and giving local authorities discretion over the number of Starter Homes built in their area. The discretion for local authorities to determine the number of starter homes built locally, alongside affordable homes for rent, will be critical for ensuring new housing meets the needs of communities.

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Housing and Planning Bill House of Lords, Third Reading 27 April 2016


Housing and Planning Bill, House of Lords, Report Stage, 25 April 2016

Key messages:

  • An effective democratically-led planning system is critical to good place-making that drives growth and prosperity. Planning is not a barrier to development and local communities continue to approve development with almost nine in every 10 planning applications being granted permission.
  • The number of homes being granted planning permission by local authorities during 2015 was 253,000, which is the highest level since 2007. Research commissioned by the LGA shows that there are up to 475,000 homes in England which have been given planning permission but have yet to be built.
  • Proposals on planning in the Bill risk reducing the influence of local communities over decisions that impact on their lives and may affect the capacity of the planning system to strategically and coherently drive growth across economies.

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Housing and Planning Bill, House of Lords, Report Stage, 25 April 2016


Housing and Planning Bill, House of Lords, Report Stage, 20 April 2016

Key messages:

  • An effective democratically-led planning system is critical to good place-making that drives growth and prosperity. Planning is not a barrier to development and local communities continue to approve development with almost nine in every 10 planning applications being granted permission.
  • The number of homes being granted planning permission by local authorities during 2015 was 253,000, which is the highest level since 2007.1 Research commissioned by the LGA shows that there are up to 475,000 homes in England which have been given planning permission but have yet to be built.
  • Proposals on planning in the Bill risk reducing the influence of local communities over decisions that impact on their lives and may affect the capacity of the planning system to strategically and coherently drive growth across economies.
  • We support the Government's efforts to streamline the local plan-making process. However, we are concerned about provisions that would give the Secretary of State new powers over local plans, including to intervene in the local plan-making process. It is vital that the local plan process is not undermined by national policy changes. An approach that seeks to understand what the blockages are and to resolve them will be more beneficial in the long-term than the imposition of a plan on an area.

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Housing and Planning Bill, House of Lords, Report Stage, 20 April 2016

Amendments:

Tabled by LGA Chairman, Lord Porter of Spalding


Housing and Planning Bill, House of Lords, Report Stage, 18 April 2016

Key messages

  • Local government can play a key role in building more homes. Local authorities should be able to develop a locally responsive mix of housing tenure that works towards supporting home ownership, expanding stock where it is most needed and meeting demand, while reducing welfare spending.
  • Proposals to increase rents for high income tenants should be voluntary for councils as it will be for housing associations. Councils should also retain any additional income to reinvest in new and existing housing.
  • Local flexibilities will enable councils to implement the policy in a way that does not act as a disincentive for tenants to increase their earnings, retains key workers and balances policy implementation with significant administrative complexities and costs.

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Housing and Planning Bill House of Lords, Report Stage 18 April 2016


Housing and Planning Bill, House of Lords, Report Stage, 13 April 2016

Key messages

  • Local government can play a key role in building more homes. Local authorities should be able to develop a locally responsive mix of housing tenure that works towards supporting home ownership, expanding stock where it is most needed and meeting demand, while reducing welfare spending.
  • The LGA supports the intent behind amendment 51 led by Lord Kennedy of Southwark and Lord Beecham. The LGA wants to work with central government, housing associations and councils to ensure the implementation of the national agreement meets local need.

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Housing and Planning Bill House of Lords, Report Stage 13 April 2016


Housing and Planning Bill, House of Lords Report Stage, 11 April 

Key messages

  • Local government can play a key role in building more homes. Local authorities should be able to develop a locally responsive mix of housing tenure that works towards supporting home ownership, expanding stock where it is most needed and meeting demand, while reducing welfare spending.
  • As local planning authorities, councils need the power and flexibility to shape the number and type of Starter Homes within and across developments. This should be alongside different types of affordable homes and in line with local plans to meet local assessments of need and viability, which is crucial for securing community support for development.

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Housing and Planning Bill, House of Lords Committee Stage, 11, 13 April


Housing and Planning Bill, House of Lords Committee Stage, 17, 21, 22 and 23 March 

Key messages

  • Planning in England: An effective democratically-led planning system is critical to good place-making that drives growth and prosperity. Proposals on planning in the Bill, including a new permission in principle, national interventions in local plan making and new performance regimes, and piloting approaches for introducing competition into the processing of planning applications, risk reducing the influence of local communities over decisions that impact on their lives. These points may also affect the capacity of the planning system to strategically and coherently drive growth across economies.
  • The Bill is an opportunity to introduce measures that would allow local authorities to develop a planning fees schedule that would enable the full costs of processing planning applications to be recovered. 

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Housing and Planning Bill, House of Lords Committee Stage, 17, 21, 22 and 23 March


Housing and Planning Bill, House of Lords Committee Stage, Week commencing 14 March, 2016

Key messages

  • High income social tenants: Proposals to increase rents for high income tenants should be voluntary for councils as it will be for housing associations. Councils should also retain any additional income to reinvest in new and existing housing.
  • Local flexibilities will enable councils to implement the policy in a way that does not disincentivise tenants to increase their earnings, retains key workers and balances policy implementation with administrative complexities and costs.
  • Lifetime tenancies: Councils should be free to manage their tenancies in a way that drives best value from stock while supporting strong local communities. We are concerned the Government's proposals would remove flexibilities for councils to offer different kinds of tenancies in response to local need, and the impact this will have on vulnerable tenants and communities.

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Housing and Planning Bill, House of Lords Committee Stage, Week commencing 14 March, 2016


Housing and Planning Bill, House of Lords, Committee Stage, 1 March and 3 March 2016

Key messages

  • The LGA supports the Government in its ambition to increase housing supply. Councils want to play a lead role in building new homes and developing a locally responsive mix of tenure, which includes social housing and affordable homes for families not ready to buy.
  • We are concerned that elements of the Bill will not help the Government to achieve its ambitions. It will have the unintended consequence of reducing the availability of much-needed council housing, and could hamper the ability of local authorities to invest in new affordable council housing and to create the right mix of housing that local residents can afford.
  • This could lead to an increase in the housing benefit bill as more people are forced to move into the more expensive private-rented sector, and would do little to help councils reduce both homelessness and spending on temporary accommodation.
  • It is difficult to understand the full implications of the proposals as much of the detail will be determined in regulations that have not been published alongside the Bill. Draft regulations should be published as soon as possible to allow for effective scrutiny.
  • Starter Homes: As local planning authorities, councils need the flexibility to shape the number, type and quality of Starter Homes within and across developments alongside other types of affordable housing. It is vital that new housing products are delivered in response to the needs of residents and economies in local housing markets as assessed locally by councils as part of developing their local plans.
  • To ensure the best use of public subsidy, the discount on Starter Homes should be recycled in perpetuity, as is the case in council schemes, or extended (for example, to 20 years) so that more families can benefit.li>
  • Self-build and custom housebuilding: We support the Government's ambition to double the number of self-build and custom build houses built by 2020. However, the National Planning Policy Framework clearly sets out that councils should plan locally for a mix of housing to reflect local demand, including people wishing to build their own home.
  • A new legislative duty on councils for self-build and custom-build delivery is therefore unnecessary. Instead, there should be more effective ways for communities to find plots of land, and access to finance for self-build and custom build should be improved.
  • Forced sale of vacant high value local authority housing: We oppose proposals that would allow the Secretary of State to require a regular payment from councils based on an amount determined by central government in secondary legislation.
  • Councils should be free to manage their housing assets and to retain 100 per cent of receipts to invest in new and existing homes. As a minimum all councils should retain sufficient funds to replace each home sold on a like for like basis. This should also apply to council Right to Buy, as required rent reductions reduce the capacity of councils to replace those homes sold under the scheme.
  • The Bill effectively gives Government the freedom to decide how much it would like to 'tax' each council with housing stock, and to define high value for their area to deliver that figure. This diverges from the original intent of the policy.
  • Implementing the Right to Buy on a voluntary basis: It is important that Government and housing associations work with councils to manage the take up of the extended Right to Buy and any onset implications for local housing markets, and to ensure that the location and tenure of replacement homes considers the implications for council duties to accommodate the homeless and vulnerable.

LGA Briefing - Housing and Planning Bill, House of Lords, Committee Stage, 1 March and 3 March 2016.


Housing and Planning Bill, House of Lords, Second Reading, 26 January 2016

Key messages

  • The LGA supports the Government in its ambition to increase housing supply. Councils want to play a lead role in building new homes and developing a locally responsive mix of tenure, which includes social housing and affordable homes for families not ready to buy.
  • We are concerned that elements of the Bill will not help the Government to achieve its ambitions. It will have the unintended consequence of reducing the availability of much-needed council housing, and could hamper the ability of local authorities to invest in new affordable council housing and to create the right mix of housing that local residents can afford.
  • This could lead to an increase in the housing benefit bill as more people are forced to move into the more expensive private-rented sector, and would do little to help councils reduce homelessness and reduce spending on temporary accommodation.

Download the amendments:
LGA Briefing - Housing and Planning Bill, House of Lords, Second Reading, 26 January 2016


Housing and Planning Bill, House of Commons, Report Stage, 5 January 2016

Key messages

  • Local government can play a key role in building more homes. Local authorities should be able to develop a locally responsive mix of housing tenure that works towards supporting home ownership, expanding stock where it is most needed and meeting demand, while reducing welfare spending.
  • Starter Homes (clauses 1 to 7): As local planning authorities, councils need the power and flexibility to shape the number and type of Starter Homes within and across developments. This should be alongside different types of affordable homes and in line with local plans to meet local assessments of need and viability, which is crucial for securing community support for development.
  • Proposals to exempt 200,000 starter homes from the Community Infrastructure Levy and other infrastructure spending pots will put more pressure on existing local infrastructure. We are also calling for restrictions on re-sales and letting on Starter Homes at open market value to be in perpetuity.

Download the amendments:
LGA Briefing - Housing and Planning Bill - Commons Report Stage - 5 January 2016
LGA Briefing - Housing and Planning Bill - Commons Report Stage - Amendments Statements - 5 January 2016


Housing and Planning Bill, House of Commons, Committee Stage, 8 and 10 December 2015

Key messages

  • The country needs an additional 230,000 homes per year to keep up with the number of new households and the Government has pledged to deliver 275,000 affordable homes by 2020. This is only achievable if councils play a full part in delivery through partnerships and by building on their own account. The private sector alone will not deliver on the scale required.
  • The Government should ensure that local authorities are able to support house building by providing a local and stable planning system; devolving housing funding; allowing councils to keep money raised through their assets; freeing up public sector land; and stronger compulsory purchase powers.
  • Tackling the housing deficit will require an increase in supply across all tenures. Councils are supportive of measures that increase home ownership but there is also a need to provide homes for affordable and social rent.
  • Investing in affordable housing for low wage earners and those on social housing waiting lists can help reduce the £24 billion annual housing benefit bill; boost employment in the construction industry; support local economies; and reduce the £2.5 billion cost of poor quality housing to the NHS.

Download the amendments:
LGA briefing: Housing and Planning Bill, House of Commons, Committee Stage, 8 December 2015
LGA briefing: Housing and Planning Bill, House of Commons, Committee Stage, 10 December 2015


Committee Stage, House of Commons, 10 November to 10 December 2015: 1 December 2015

Key messages

  • Implementing the Right to Buy on a voluntary basis: The extension of the Right to buy should not be funded by the sale of council owned homes. We are keen to pursue alternative methods for funding the extension as this is stated Government policy, for instance by bringing forward more public sector land, including Government and Registered Social Landlord (RSL) assets.
  • Vacant High Value Local Authority Housing: The LGA has argued that the extension of the Right to Buy should not be funded by forcing councils to sell off their homes. It is important that receipts from the sale of high value homes are reinvested into local replacement homes.
  • We want to work with the Government to find an alternative method for funding the extension of the Right to Buy. Any funding of Right to Buy must support better management of local authority and RSL housing assets and building local replacements, rather than focusing on a process of taking a nationally determined payment from councils.
  • It is important that the Government works with councils to understand the unintended consequences of forcing the sale of vacant council homes, in particular on council waiting lists, homelessness and housing benefit.
  • High income social tenants: mandatory rent: Local authorities want to manage their homes to meet best the needs of communities and should be free to set differential rent levels based on local circumstances and housing markets.
  • We are concerned that the Bill seeks to establish a process for taking a sum of money from councils based on a national estimate that will unlikely reflect actual local conditions. Councils, like housing associations, should be able to retain the additional income generated from these rents to build new homes. This would have far greater benefits for local communities than the money going to the Treasury.
  • This is important in light of the reductions in social rents contained in the Welfare Reform and Work Bill

LGA amendments briefing - Housing and Planning Bill - Part 4 - December 2015


Committee Stage, House of Commons, 10 November to 10 December 2015: 19 November 2015

Key messages

  • Councils are keen to support home ownership. Starter Homes are being promoted by the Government as an alternative to other housing tenures, such as shared ownership, social rent, discount market rent.
  • Councils need the powers and flexibility to shape the supply of genuinely affordable homes to meet needs of different people in their area, in line with their local plan and the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF).
  • The delivery of 200,000 Starter Homes will put additional pressure on local infrastructure. Exempting Starter Homes from Community Infrastructure Levy and other tariff-based contributions to general infrastructure pots will reduce the amount of funding for infrastructure in some areas.
  • Delivery through the planning system will create significant new burdens on council planning teams and so should be fully funded.
  • It is planned that Starter Homes can be resold or let at open market value five years after the initial sale. In our view the restrictions on re-sales and letting at open market value should be in perpetuity. This model already exists through Low Cost Home Ownership schemes run by many councils.

LGA amendments briefing - Housing and Planning Bill - 19 November 2015


First reading, House of Commons, 13 October 2015
 

Key messages

  • The country needs an additional 230,000 homes per year to keep up with the number of new households and the Government has pledged to deliver 275,000 affordable homes by 2020. This is only achievable if councils play a full part in delivery through partnerships and by building on their own account. The private sector alone will not deliver on the scale required.
  • The Government should ensure that local authorities are able to support house building by providing a local and stable planning system; devolving housing funding; allowing councils to keep money raised through their assets; freeing up public sector land; and stronger compulsory purchase powers.
  • Tackling the housing deficit will require an increase in supply across all tenures. Councils are supportive of measures that increase home ownership but there is also a need to provide homes for affordable and social rent.
  • Investing in affordable housing for low wage earners and those on social housing waiting lists can help reduce the £24 billion annual housing benefit bill; boost employment in the construction industry; support local economies; and reduce the £2.5 billion cost of poor quality housing to the NHS.

Download the full LGA briefing:
LGA briefing: Housing and Planning Bill, first reading (PDF, 8 pages)

6 January 2017