Housing and Planning Bill Passed

by Andrew Hobbs
16th May 2016

The landmark Housing and Planning Act has received royal assent, heralding changes that seek to ease the way to home ownership and double the number of custom and self-build homes by 2020.

Despite the ‘ping-pong’ between the House of Commons and the House of Lords last week, the government’s primary initiatives within the bill are thought to have come through largely unchanged.

Housing and Planning Minister Brandon Lewis said: “Our landmark Housing and Planning Act will help anyone who aspires to own their own home achieve their dream.”

The new Act includes legislation that should make it easier for self-builders to find plots and gain planning permission. It intends to:

  • Support the doubling of the number of custom-built and self-built homes to 20,000 by 2020 by requiring local authorities to grant permissions in line with demand
  • Unlock brownfield land to provide homes faster, requiring local authorities to prepare, maintain and publish local registers of specified land
  • Ensure that every area has a local plan
  • Reform the compulsory purchase process to make it clearer, fairer and faster
  • Simplify and speed up neighbourhood planning through ‘permission in principle’ – an automatic consent for sites identified in local and neighbourhood plans

Key for those who wish to build their own homes is the fact that local authorities will now have a duty to grant permission on enough serviced plots of land to meet the demand for self-building and custom building in their area (creating what’s being billed as the Right to Build).

This demand is measured via Custom & Self-Build Demand Registers, which all councils are required to keep as of 1 April 2016, under legislation brought forward in 2015’s Self-Build & Custom Homebuilding Act.

The government’s target of doubling the number of custom and self-build homes by 2020 is a tough one – but the legislation has a chance of derisking the process both for would-be self-builders and lenders.

We may well see further planning reforms revealed in this week’s Queen Speech, which outlines the legislative itinerary for the year to come. Regardless, it’s great that self-build is being given room to grow.

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