Autumn Statement signals further planning reforms and a new target for affordable homes
The Chancellor’s Autumn Statement and Spending Review unveiled this week (25 November) committed the Government to a new target for affordable housing starts (400,000 units by 2021) and further reforms to the planning system which included a proposal to allow previously developed brownfield sites in the green belt to be developed in the same way as other brownfield land.
The administration also announced 18 new Enterprise Zones and extended eight zones, promised to spend £2bn to protect 300,000 homes from flooding and £1m to help bankroll activities surrounding Hull‘s status as UK City of Culture in 2017.
Other planning reforms signaled will involve establishing a new delivery test on local authorities to ensure “delivery against the number of homes set out in local plans”.
The Statement also promised measures to accelerate the release of public land for housing and ensure the release of unused and previously undeveloped commercial, retail, and industrial land for ‘Starter Homes’.
Planning policy will also be amended to support small sites. Small and medium-sized builder activity will be helped by the extension of the £1bn Builders’ Finance Fund to 2020-21, and by the halving of the length of the planning guarantee for minor developments.
A sum of £2.3bn is being made available in loans to help regenerate large council estates and invest in infrastructure needed for major housing developments. The Government has committed to £310m to deliver the first new garden city in nearly 100 years, at Ebbsfleet in Kent.
The statement said the Government will consult on reforms to the New Homes Bonus, including means of sharpening the incentive to reward communities for additional homes and reducing the length of payments from six years to four years.
The Review and Statement provides £475m over the next five years to fund large local transport projects, enabling local areas to bid for funding for projects that would be too expensive for them to pay for by themselves, such as the Lowestoft Third River Crossing and the North Devon Link Road.
In addition the Government has promised £300m over the next five years for a new Transport Development Fund. This could include providing development funding for projects such as Crossrail 2 and proposals emerging from the Northern Transport Strategy.