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These notes refer to the Housing and Regeneration Bill as brought from the House of Commons on 1st April 2008 [HL Bill 47]
HOUSING AND REGENERATION BILL
1. These explanatory notes relate to the Housing and Regeneration Bill as brought from the House of Commons on 1st April 2008. They have been prepared by the Department for Communities and Local Government in order to assist the reader of the Bill and to help inform debate on it. They do not form part of the Bill and have not been endorsed by Parliament.
2. The notes need to be read in conjunction with the Bill. They are not, and are not meant to be, a comprehensive description of the Bill. So where a clause or part of a clause does not seem to require any explanation or comment, none is given.
3. The Housing and Regeneration Bill gives effect to the Government's proposals to create the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) and the Office for Tenants and Social Landlords. The Prime Minister's statement to Parliament of 11th July 2007 on the draft legislative programme set out the context for the Bill. The Queen's Speech on 6th November 2007 confirmed that "Available and affordable housing is one of my Government's main priorities. Legislation will be introduced to create a new Homes and Communities Agency that will deliver more social and affordable housing, and promote regeneration."
4. Professor Martin Cave began an independent review of social housing regulation on 14th December 2006. Professor Cave's remit was to establish a clear set of objectives for the regulation of social housing to underpin any new regulatory system, present options for reform and make recommendations about institutional arrangements. His report Every Tenant Matters: A review of social housing regulation, was published on 19th June 2007. On the same day, the Government launched the consultation paper Delivering Housing and Regeneration: Communities England and the future of social housing regulation. This paper
took forward Professor Cave's recommendations and set out proposals on the role, responsibilities and operation of Communities England, now the HCA. The then Minister for Housing and Planning, Yvette Cooper MP, made a statement to Parliament on 15th October 2007, which set out further detail on the new social housing regulator, the Office for Tenants and Social Landlords. The Government's Housing Green Paper Homes for the future: more affordable, more sustainable, published on 23rd July 2007, set out the role of the HCA in the context of the proposals set out in the Green Paper.
5. This Bill follows from these reviews, consultations and statements.
6. Part 1 of the Bill creates the HCA and sets out its objects and powers. The main objects of the HCA will be to improve the supply and quality of housing in England; to secure the regeneration or development of land or infrastructure in England; to support in other ways the creation, regeneration or development of communities in England or their continued well-being; and to contribute to sustainable development. The Bill also abolishes the predecessor organisations of the Urban Regeneration Agency and the Commission for the New Towns, which operated under the joint name of English Partnerships. The powers of the HCA are modelled to a large extent on those of the Urban Regeneration Agency. The HCA will take on the functions of those organisations and also certain functions of the Housing Corporation, related to investment in housing.
7. Part 2 of the Bill creates the new social housing regulator, the Office for Tenants and Social Landlords, and sets out its objectives and powers. The new regulator will regulate social housing in England provided by registered providers (which will include current Registered Social Landlords (RSLs), along with other bodies who choose to register). The new regulator will take on the regulation functions of the Housing Corporation. The Bill also abolishes the Housing Corporation.
8. The Bill will also give effect to other measures in relation to housing services which were proposed in or alongside the Housing Green Paper Homes for the future: more affordable, more sustainable on 23rd July 2007:
9. The Bill will also give effect to a number of measures in the consultation paper Tenant Empowerment: A Consultation Paper, published on 11th July 2007, which set out proposals to increase tenant empowerment. The Bill will give effect to proposals to:
10. The Bill will also give effect to other measures in relation to housing services:
1 Shared owners buying their freehold before they have acquired full ownership of their home by buying further shares under the terms of their lease
? to widen the existing power for the Lord Chancellor to provide financial assistance for the giving of general advice in respect of the law relating to commonhold land relating to residential matters, information and training and an alternative dispute resolution service.
11. The Bill is set out as follows:
Chapter 1 - General
Chapter 2 - Land and infrastructure
Chapter 3 - Financial provision
Chapter 4 - Other functions of the HCA
Chapter 5 - Supplementary
Chapter 1 - Introduction
Chapter 2 - The Social Housing Regulator
Chapter 3 - Registration
Chapter 4 - Registered providers
Chapter 5 - Disposal of property
Chapter 6 - Regulatory powers
Chapter 7 - Enforcement powers
Chapter 8 - General
Chapter 1 - Sustainability certificates
Chapter 2 - Landlord and tenant matters
Chapter 3 - Housing finance and other provisions
12. The Bill extends to England and Wales only, save for some consequential matters which may extend to Scotland and Northern Ireland also. Parts 1 and 2 of the Bill generally apply to England only, although some consequential matters will apply to Wales and some may extend and apply to Scotland also. Part 3 of the Bill applies to England and Wales.
13. The Scottish Parliament has given their consent to subsection (3) of clause 66, which repeals Section 33A of the Housing Associations Act 1985 which provides for the Welsh Ministers in relation to Wales, the Scottish Ministers in relation to Scotland and the Secretary of State in relation to England to enter into agreements with the Housing Corporation.
14. Part 1 of the Bill mainly applies to England only but consequential amendments apply in Wales. The HCA will operate in England only and so any functions of the Secretary of State in relation to the agency will apply in England only. This Part also abolishes the Commission for New Towns. Functions of the Commission for New Towns in England are being transferred to the HCA. Functions of the Commission for New Towns in Wales are being transferred to the Welsh Ministers and any residual assets of the Commission for New Towns in Wales are also being transferred to Welsh Ministers.
15. Part 2 of the Bill mainly applies to England only but consequential amendments apply in Wales. The Office for Tenants and Social Landlords will operate in England only and so any functions of the Secretary of State in relation to the regulator will apply in England only.
16. Part 3 of the Bill applies to England and Wales. Powers will be exercised by the Secretary of State in relation to England and by Welsh Ministers in relation to Wales. Further detail for Part 3 is contained in Annex A to these Explanatory Notes.
Chapter 1 - General
Clause 1 - Establishment and constitution
17. This clause establishes the Homes and Communities Agency ("HCA") and introduces Schedule 1.
18. The HCA will operate across England, with a view to meeting the needs of people in England, by:
19. These objects are broadly drawn to reflect the wide range of activities that the HCA will undertake at a national level. It will work to improve housing supply, including tackling housing shortages, and to improve the quality of housing including the condition of housing. It will also undertake the regeneration and development of any type of land or infrastructure; and will have a more general role supporting the overall well-being of communities, in relation to which it will be able to establish new communities or work to regenerate or develop existing communities. It will also work to contribute to the achievement of sustainable development. The HCA will also act as the residuary body for the development corporations for new towns established under the New Towns Act 1981 and for urban development corporations (which is currently the function of the Commission for the New Towns), as set out in clause 54.
20. Generally, the HCA may do anything it considers appropriate for the purposes of its objects or for purposes incidental to them and its specific powers are set out in Chapters 2 to 4 of Part 1. Many of these powers are modelled on the powers available to the Urban Regeneration Agency, the Commission for the New Towns and the Housing Corporation.
21. The powers of the HCA are to be exercised for the purposes of the objects (or for purposes incidental to them) only. Those powers may be exercised independently of each other or together. Where the HCA is conferred with functions of the local planning authority in relation to a designated area under clause 13, it will not be constrained by its objects in exercising those powers (but, in this situation, it will exercise those functions in accordance with existing planning legislation).
Clauses 5-7 - Powers to provide housing or other land; Powers for regeneration, development or effective use of land; Powers in relation to infrastructure
22. Clause 5 enables the HCA to provide or facilitate the provision of housing or other land. Subsection (3) explains the meaning of "provide" in this context.
23. Clause 6 enables the HCA, directly or indirectly, to regenerate or develop land and bring land into more effective use.
24. Clause 7 enables the HCA to provide or facilitate the provision of infrastructure. Infrastructure is defined in clause 2(3) and includes, for example, utilities such as water, electricity, gas, transport facilities, retail and other business facilities. Subsection (3) explains the meaning of "provide" in this context.
Powers to deal with land etc.
25. The HCA will be able to acquire, hold, improve, manage, reclaim, repair or dispose of housing or other land or property, or facilitate these activities. It will also be able to carry out building and other operations, including the demolition or conversion of buildings, or facilitate such operations. These powers are modelled on those of the Urban Regeneration Agency.
26. The HCA may need to acquire land in order to achieve its objects. The HCA will therefore be able to purchase land by agreement or may, where authorised to do so by the Secretary of State, acquire land and new rights over land compulsorily. This clause is modelled on the powers of the Urban Regeneration Agency under section 162 of the Leasehold Reform, Housing and Urban Development Act 1993.
27. This clause also introduces Schedule 2.
28. The HCA is not permitted to dispose of land for less than the best consideration it can reasonably obtain, unless the Secretary of State consents (clause 50 provides that the Secretary of State may give consent, where required under Part 1, generally or specifically). The restriction to dispose of land for less than best consideration does not apply where the HCA proposes to dispose of land by granting or assigning a short tenancy, that is to say of a term of seven years or less.
29. Unless the Secretary of State consents, the HCA is not permitted to dispose of land that it has acquired by way of compulsory purchase. Such a disposal would also be subject to the restrictions on disposal at less than best consideration. Aside from this, the HCA may dispose of land held by it in any way it considers appropriate.
Clause 11 - Main powers in relation to acquired land
30. Clause 11 introduces Schedule 3.
31. Clause 12 introduces Schedule 4.
Clauses 13-17 - Power of Secretary of State to make designation orders; The HCA as the local planning authority; Adoption of private streets; Appeals against adoption of private streets: Traffic regulation orders for private streets.
32. Under clause 13, the Secretary of State has the power to designate an area in England where the Secretary of State is of the opinion that the area is suitable for development and that one of two conditions are fulfilled. Condition 1 is that it is appropriate for the HCA to be the local planning authority in relation to that area for all or particular permitted purposes in relation to all or particular kinds of development and Condition 2 is that it is appropriate for the provisions in clauses 15 and 16, or 17, or both sets of provisions to apply in relation to that area.
33. The designation of an area is to be made by order and before making such an order the Secretary of State is required to consult a variety of bodies including every local authority who has an area, or part of an area, in the proposed designated area and any person other than a local authority who is the local planning authority for any part of the area that is to be designated.
34. The range of planning functions that can be conferred on the HCA under a designation order provide the Secretary of State with the flexibility to confer only those functions considered to be necessary for that area. Where a designation order is made in accordance with Condition 1, clause 14 sets out the functions which may be conferred on the HCA in relation to that designated area. In particular the designation order may provide that the HCA is to be the local planning authority in relation to development control under Part 3 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990, it may be the local planning authority in relation to applications for listed building and conservation area consent and it may be the hazardous substances authority for the designated area. A designation order may also confer certain other planning functions (those which are not conferred on a local planning authority per se) on the HCA, either instead of or concurrently with, other persons who have them. An example of such a function is that of keeping enforcement notice registers, a function of the district council planning authority, district council or London borough council.
35. Clause 14 also enables the Secretary of State to confer responsibility on the HCA for preparing and maintaining all or part of the Local Development Framework for the designated area. Conferring such powers may be useful in instances where a designated area covers two or more local authority areas.
36. Where the HCA is the local planning authority for a designated area it will be bound by the same legislation, consultation requirements and restrictions as any other local planning authority. The procedures set out in the Town and Country Planning (General Development Procedure) Order 1995 will apply where the HCA is an "interested planning authority". In addition it would also need to have regard to the same policies as any other local planning authority, whether these are development plan policies or policies of the Secretary of State.
37. Where the functions of a local planning authority or hazardous substances authority are conferred upon the HCA in relation to a designated area, it will have the power to charge fees in relation to certain applications. The Secretary of State is given the power to prescribe in regulations fees payable for certain applications, including applications for planning permission and hazardous substances consent. The power to set fees in relation to applications for planning permission is found in s.303 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990. Regulations made under this section are subject to the affirmative resolution procedure. In relation to applications for hazardous substances consent, the power of the Secretary of State to prescribe fees is found in s.26A of the Planning (Hazardous Substances) Act 1990. The Secretary of State also has the power to prescribe for the making of reasonable charges for the provision of copies of documents required by or under Part 2 of the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004. Whilst there is no express restriction on the regulation making powers to restrict fees to cover costs, the intention is that the power will be so exercised.
38. Clause 14 affords the Secretary of State the opportunity to determine which planning functions the HCA should have for each different designated area; such as:
39. Clause 15 confers a power on the HCA to serve an adoption notice on the street works authority, where works have been executed on a private street within the designated area. The adoption notice requires the street works authority to declare the street to be a highway maintainable at public expense.
40. Clause 16 gives the street works authority the power to appeal to the Secretary of State against an adoption notice served by the HCA under clause 15. Where an appeal is made the Secretary of State must consider any representations made by the HCA and street works authority and has the power to confirm the notice, with or without modifications, or set it aside. The Secretary of State also has the power to impose conditions, including financial conditions, upon the HCA which they must comply with for the notice to take effect.
41. Clause 17 gives the Secretary of State the power to make traffic regulation orders in relation to any private street within a designated area, where the HCA has made representations to the Secretary of State that an order should be made and the Secretary of State considers that the traffic authority responsible for that private street does not intend to make the suggested order.
|© Parliamentary copyright 2008||Prepared: 2 April 2008|