Neighbourhood planning powers boosting plans for housebuilding by more than 10%

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(London Post)   New neighbourhood planning powers are boosting plans for housebuilding by more than 10%, Housing and Planning Minister Brandon Lewis said.

Neighbourhood plans allow people to decide the future development of their area, including where new homes and businesses should be built, what they should look like and what local infrastructure is needed.

Putting planning power in the hands of local people involves the whole community, from plan drafting to referendum stages.

So far more than 100 areas have voted yes in neighbourhood planning referendums, with more than 8 million people living in areas involved in neighbourhood planning.

And latest figures show that plans for housebuilding are more than 10% higher in the first areas with a neighbourhood plan as opposed to only the council’s local plan.

Nationally planning permissions were granted on almost 250,000 new homes in the last year, with more than one million permissions granted for new homes since 2010 and the National House Building Council saying the number of new homes being registered with it so far this year is 9% higher than a year ago.

Speaking about the second reading of the Housing and Planning Bill, Brandon Lewis said:

This government is continuing the huge shift of power from Whitehall to the town hall and to local people. More than 8 million people now live in areas that have had or will have their say on planning in their neighbourhood, and more areas are coming forward every day.

We are scrapping the broken old planning system that pitted neighbours and developers against each other, and cornered people into opposing any development in their back yard. The 100 neighbourhood planning referendums show how our approach of getting the whole community working together is paying off, and breaking through local opposition.

Earlier this year the government opened a neighbourhood planning support programme, including a fund allowing groups to apply for grants of up to £8,000 to help write their plans, pay for events to engage the local community, develop websites and pay for specialist planning expertise. Areas facing more complex issues may be eligible for up to £14,000.

Local people can draw up neighbourhood plans which, once approved, councils are bound to consider as part of the planning process alongside the council’s own local plan for the area.

Separately, neighbourhood development orders can grant planning permission for specific types of development in a particular neighbourhood. Both require support of 50% of voters in a local referendum.

Every one of the more than 100 neighbourhood plans submitted to a local referendum has been approved by local people.

Read more about how neighbourhood planning works and how you can get involved in our Immersive feature.

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Housing and Planning Bill

The government has outlined its ambition to ensure that an extra million families will be able to become homeowners by the end of this Parliament. This includes delivering 200,000 affordable starter homes that will be available to first time buyers at a 20% discount below market rates.

During the second reading of the Housing Bill the minister is reaffirming the ambition to transform generation rent into generation buy.

Brandon Lewis said:

The 2008 crash devastated the housebuilding industry, leading to the lowest levels of ‘starts’ for any peacetime year since the 1920s and the loss of a quarter of a million construction jobs. We have got Britain building again, with housing completions at their highest annual level since 2009.

We know that around 86% of people aspire to own their own home and we want to help turn their dream into a reality. That is why we are supporting the building of all types of homes from starter homes for first time buyers to opening up planning reforms to make more custom builds a reality.

The government is extending the Right to Buy to give housing association tenants the same home ownership opportunities as council tenants, with every property sold replaced with an additional affordable home. The reinvigorated Right to Buy for council tenants has already helped nearly 40,000 into homeownership since 2012.

Every home sold under the scheme will be replaced by an additional property on a one-for-one basis and since 2012 councils have already delivered more than 3,000 homes through the reinvigorated Right to Buy scheme. More council housing has been delivered since 2010 than in the previous 13 years.

Home ownership campaign

The government recently launched a new websitewww.ownyourhome.gov.uk to help aspiring homeowners unlock the door to their own home by finding the best scheme for them. The website links to a Right to Buy database that allows housing association tenants to register their interest in the scheme.

The Housing and Planning Bill will help the government deliver on its ambition to build one million homes by the end of Parliament.

Measures include:

  • new affordable starter homes – a new legal duty will be placed on councils to guarantee the delivery of Starter Homes on all reasonably sized new development sites, and to promote the scheme to first time buyers in their area
  • automatic planning permission in principle on brownfield sites – to build as many homes as possible while protecting the green belt
  • planning reforms to support small builders – requiring councils to help allocate land to people who want to build their own home
  • selling off high value vacant assets – which will be reinvested in building new affordable homes
  • neighbourhood planning – simplifying and speeding up the neighbourhood planning process to support communities that seek to meet local housing and other development needs through neighbourhood planning
  • the Housing and Planning Bill can be accessed on the Parliament website
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