Housing and Planning Bill

Explanatory Notes


Overview of the Bill

1 The Bill is intended to support the delivery of the Government's commitments as put forward in the Conservative Party manifesto and the productivity plan Fixing the foundations: Creating a more prosperous nation. Through this Bill, the Government aims to take forward proposals to build more homes that people can afford, give more people the chance to own their own home, and ensure the way housing is managed is improved.

2 This Bill seeks to achieve this, in part, by implementing reforms that will make sure that the planning system does not add any unnecessary obstacles to the delivery of new homes.

3 This Bill is made up of nine parts. A summary of these parts and their contents is provided below.

Part 1: New Homes in England

o Starter Homes – providing a statutory framework for the delivery of starter homes

o Self-build and custom housebuilding – requiring local authorities to meet demand for custom-built and self-built homes by granting permissions for suitable sites

Part 2: Rogue landlords and property agents in England

o Private rented sector – providing greater powers for local authorities to identify and tackle rogue landlords and property agents.

Part 3: Recovering abandoned premises in England

o Private rented sector – reforming abandonment to more effectively recycle rented property

Part 4: Social housing in England

o Implementing the Right to Buy on a voluntary basis – enabling the Secretary of State to pay for the cost of Right to Buy discounts for housing association tenants and to set criteria for home ownership against which private registered providers may be monitored

o Vacant high value local authority housing – requiring local authorities to manage their housing assets more efficiently, with the most valuable vacant properties sold to fund an increase in home ownership and overall housing supply

o High income social tenants – requiring local authority tenants in social housing on higher incomes (over £40,000 in London and over £30,000 outside London) to pay a fairer level of rent. The policy will be voluntary for housing associations to operate

o Secure tenancies etc. – requiring local authority landlords to grant new tenants a fixed term tenancy of between 2 and 5 years and restricting the rights of family members to succeed to local authority tenancies

o Reducing regulationallowing the Secretary of State to reduce regulations on Housing Associations

o Special Administration Regime – allowing the Secretary of State or the regulator of social housing with the agreement of the Secretary of State to apply to the Court to appoint a special administrator for private registered providers of social housing that have become insolvent

Part 5: Housing, estate agents and rentcharges: other changes

o Housing needs in England – simplifying the legislation governing the assessment of housing and accommodation needs of the community, whilst ensuring that the needs of all members of the community are assessed on an equal basis

o Regulation and enforcement – a more stringent ‘fit and proper’ person test for landlords letting out licensed properties, such as Houses in Multiple Occupation, to help ensure that they have the appropriate skills to manage such properties and do not pose a risk to the health and safety of their tenants; allowing financial penalties to be imposed as an alternative to prosecution for certain offences; requiring Tenancy Deposit Scheme data to be shared with local authorities; and amending the Estate Agents Act 1979 to allow the Secretary of State to appoint the lead enforcement authority

o Enfranchisement and extension of long leaseholds – making provision for the valuation of minor intermediate leasehold interests in leasehold enfranchisement and lease extension cases to continue to be possible when using the legislation

o Rentcharges – allowing the formula for calculating the amount needed to redeem a rentcharge to be amended by secondary legislation

Part 6: Planning in England

o 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

o Local planning – giving the Secretary of State more flexible powers to intervene if Local Plans are not effectively delivered

o Planning in Greater London – devolving further powers to the Mayor of London

o Local registers of land and permission in principle – creating a duty for local authorities to hold a register of various types of land, with the intention of creating a register of brownfield land to facilitate unlocking land to build new homes; and giving housing-led sites identified in the brownfield register, local and neighbourhood plans 'permission in principle', and providing an opportunity for applicants to obtain permission in principle for small sites

o Planning permission etc – amending the power which enables conditions to be attached to development orders for building operations so that they are consistent with those for change of use; extending the planning performance regime to apply to smaller applications; putting the financial benefits of proposals for development before local authority planning committees; and simplifying the process for making changes to planning application fees that affect some authorities but not others

o Planning obligations and affordable housing allowing the Secretary of State to place restrictions or conditions on the enforceability of planning obligations relating to the provision of affordable housing

o Resolution of disputes about planning obligations providing for the Secretary of State to appoint a person to help resolve outstanding planning obligations issues within set timeframes

o Nationally significant infrastructure projects – allowing developers who wish to bring forward applications for housing relating to a major infrastructure project to apply for consent under the nationally significant infrastructure planning regime

o Processing of planning applications – allowing the Secretary of State to introduce, by regulations, pilot schemes to test the benefits of introducing competition in the processing (but not determination) of applications for planning permission

o Urban development corporations – creating a faster and more efficient process for creating Urban Development Areas and Corporations whilst ensuring that those with an interest locally are properly consulted at an early stage

Part 7: Compulsory purchase etc

o Taking steps to improve the compulsory purchase regime, and make it clearer, fairer and faster

Part 8: Duty to Dispose

o Engagement in relation to disposal of land – creating a duty on Ministers of the Crown to engage with local authorities when preparing to dispose of land

o Duty to report on surplus land – requiring relevant public authorities to prepare reports specifying land which they have retained as surplus for longer than two years; or, in the case of property which is wholly or mainly residential property, longer than six months. In each instance, the report must set out the body’s reasons for retaining the surplus land

o Power to direct bodies to dispose of land – building on existing powers for the Secretary of State to direct bodies to dispose of land. Adding further circumstances under which this power may be exercised

o Reports on efficiency and sustainability of local government estate – creating a new duty on local authorities to prepare an annual report on the efficiency and sustainability of buildings within their estate, including progress towards reducing the size of the estate and efficiency ratings of individual buildings

o Reports on efficiency and sustainability of military estate – creating a new duty on the Minister for Cabinet Office to prepare an annual report on the efficiency and sustainability of buildings within the military estate, including progress towards reducing the size of the estate and efficiency ratings of individual buildings

Part 9: General

 

Prepared 13th January 2016