The Queen announced yesterday that the next measure to tackle the housing crisis would take the shape of the Neighbourhood Planning & Infrastructure Bill, following hot on the heels of the Housing and Planning Act 2016.

Cutting the red tape?

The need for this further planning legislation arises out of what critics have referred to as “over zealous” Councils attaching conditions on developers meaning that the actual commencement of development work is delayed whilst frustrated developers look to satisfy these pre-conditions.

The British Property Federation (BPF) has cautiously welcomed the new measures whilst, as you’d expect, it will want to see exactly how central government will restrict the pre-commencement planning conditions.

On the other hand, the Local Government Association (LGA) has reacted to criticism that development has been halted by red tape. Cllr Peter Box, Planning spokesman at the Local Government Association, said:

“The planning system is not a barrier to housebuilding…….the number of homes being granted planning permission ….during 2015 was 253,000, the highest since 2007.”

However, measures to create wider use of the Compulsory Purchase powers and the more efficient production of local development plans is welcomed by the LGA. The Bill will promise more power to the people by “strengthening neighbourhood planning” but we will have to wait for the detail to see what form this power and new strength will take.

What about the green space?

The National Trust has reacted to the proposals and although not wanting to appear to stand in the way of necessary development, there is concern. Richard Hebdith, External Affairs Director at the National Trust said :-

“We’re worried that planning is becoming a service for developers rather than a balanced, independent process…..even our finest landscapes and important greenspace….are under pressure.”

How will it affect the most vulnerable

There was (and remains) cross party concern that the Housing and Planning Act 2016 that received Royal Assent earlier this year would hit those with the most acute housing needs. Campaigners and homeless charities will want to see the Bill place greater duty on local authorities to prevent homelessness. Whether it will address this, we will need to wait for the draft Bill.

The Land Registry – the next institution to be privatised?

The Bill also promises to review the privatisation of the Land Registry which suggests to many that this demonstrates the Government’s resolve to see this through – this is an area that will be viewed intently and the BPF succinctly summarise what many within the Property sector fear and are concerned with :-

“Privatisation of the Land Registry could hold important consequences for the commercial property industry, as security of title is critical to the real estate market. It is hugely important that any changes to the way that the Land Registry is run do not affect this security so that investors can be confident that they own their assets…”

House Builder and Property Developer Solicitors

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Lupton Fawcett is a leading personal and commercial law firm in Yorkshire with well-established offices of highly experienced solicitors in Leeds, Sheffield and York.

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