In the absence of the Housing White Paper, the industry is still
left needing to mind the gap. We have simplified budgets
– abolishing the Autumn Statement – but no hint of
simplified planning for growth.
The overall commitment to housing is welcome mood music, but the
lack of detail on powers and fiscal incentives to support
locally-led Garden Towns to deliver at the scale needed leaves a
hole. Expanding grant funding for affordable tenures is great
news but at £25,000 per unit is not going to be life
The £2.3bn Housing Infrastructure Fund could be a game
changer if it is used to reward areas for proactively planning for
growth. Making an up to date housing land supply a condition for at
least some of the funding would dangle the right carrot for
authorities that currently only have the stick. The lack of fiscal
measures for new settlements – incentivising forward funding
of major infrastructure that can unlock delivery at real scale
– is disappointing though.
Affordable Housing is heading towards life support –
delivery in 2015-16 was 52% lower than last year. The
announcement in the Autumn Statement of a funding injection to
deliver 40,000 affordable homes is welcome. It is a clear
recognition that addressing the housing shortage is not simply
about building more homes. Yes, we need more but they must
meet a variety of needs. There are further signals of a softening
of the Government's stance on Starter Homes – tenure
flexibility replacing David Cameron's commitment to a single
Without the Housing White Paper, there is also still a wait to
see how the NPPF is going to be reshaped and in particular
how housing land supply and Local Plan duties will be re-set
following expert advice on accelerating delivery. If the Community
Infrastructure Levy is to be replaced by a simplified flat national
charge, the effect on infrastructure funding and the transitional
arrangements need to be understood now, so that schemes in the
pipeline do not get put into suspended animation.
The statement gives some clues about the Government's
direction of travel but, funding commitments aside, offers little
substance. We still await the detail in the Housing White
Paper which we are told will be published "soon".
Reasons for the delay are unclear. Have responses to leaks on more
radical measures, such as penalising developers for slow delivery,
prompted a re-think?
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