The Autumn Statement
On 5 December 2013 the Chancellor George Osborne announced a number of measures within the Autumn Statement, which are intended to encourage the continued improvement of the economy with the construction of new homes and the provision of local jobs.
The Government noted that housing starts are now 89% above the levels that they were in the early part of 2009 and the approval rate for planning applications is at a 13-year high.
In order to continue this growth the Government has proposed the following:
- a £1 billion 6 year investment programme to fund infrastructure needed to unlock new large housing sites that will deliver around 250,000 homes. £50 million of this will be earmarked for Local Enterprise Partnership supported bids, to deliver on their ambitions for housing growth;
- councils will be able to bid for up to £300 million of additional borrowing against their housing revenue accounts to provide new affordable housing;
- legislating to treat planning conditions as approved where a planning authority has failed to discharge a condition on time, and using legislative measures to strengthen the requirement for planning authorities to justify conditions that must be discharged before building can start;
- consulting on proposals to reduce the number of applications where unnecessary statutory consultations occur and piloting a single point of contact for cases where conflicting advice is provided;
- councils outside of London will be able to keep all their New Homes Bonus and have full control over how they use it to support new homes in their area;
- removing unnecessary burdens, conditions and red tape in the application process that are a barrier to work starting on site sooner;
- making it a statutory requirement for a council to put a Local Plan in place;
- consulting on a new 10 house threshold for Section 106 Agreement affordable housing levies to stop unviable contributions hampering the delivery of homes, and which forces up the cost of new housing;
- consulting on designating a council as under- performing if fewer than 40% of decisions are made on time - an increase from 30%;
- permanently allowing a change of use from retail to restaurant or leisure uses, and removing restrictions on mezzanine floors in retail premises, where this supports town centres;
- plans to change the New Homes Bonus by withdrawing payments where local authorities objected to development and schemes are approved on appeal; and
- in early 2014 the government will establish a specialist planning court with set deadlines to accelerate the handling of judicial review cases, and take forward work to ensure that minor procedural claims are dealt with proportionally and allow appeals to 'leapfrog' directly to the Supreme Court in a wider range of circumstances.
This article is for general guidance only. It provides useful information in a concise form. Action should not be taken without obtaining specific legal advice.