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Government unveils new planning reforms to boost affordable housing supply


The government has announced a raft of planning reforms to stimulate more house building activity across the country. Under the revised National Planning Policy Framework, councils will have a new housing delivery test focused on boosting the number of homes actually delivered in their area, rather than the number of homes that are planned for.

Meanwhile, developers will be held accountable for delivering on their commitments, including affordable housing and the infrastructure required by local communities.

Another key focus will be on ensuring the right homes are built, in particular affordable homes that meet the needs of people in varying circumstances, such as first-time buyers and older people who need adapted housing.

The revised planning framework also gives councils more freedom to make better use of existing brownfield land, especially under-utilised retail or industrial space.

In addition, local authorities will be given more flexibilities to extend upwards on existing buildings, such as shops, offices and existing blocks of flats.

The government believes this approach will help to boost housing supply and ensure the Green Belt is protected.

Meanwhile, councils will be encouraged to work together to narrow the gap between the number of homes approved and the number that are built.

Furthermore, a standardised approach to assessing housing need will be implemented, with measures put in place to ensure developers understand what is required of them and what will happen if they fall short of their obligations.

Commenting on the reforms, housing secretary Sajid Javid said they are a “crucial next step to building the homes the country needs”.

He said an entire generation “is being locked out of a broken housing market as prices and rents race ahead of supply”.

However, he insisted the government is determined to address these problems and “restore the dream of home ownership for a new generation”.

Mr Javid added that while “there is no silver bullet to this problem”, the government is “re-writing the rules on planning” so it can “take action on all fronts”.

For further information on any of the points raised in this article please contact Andrew Murray in our Social Housing Team.

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