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Briefings

HBF Member Briefing - Queen's Speech 2014

Date: 04/06/14

Queen's Speech 2014

Today’s Queen’s Speech – setting out the Government’s legislative programme for the last year of the current parliament – contained a number of proposals and supporting statements on promoting housing supply and on the planning and regulatory system.

The main items of interest were as follows:

Zero carbon homes policy

The Government will legislate in the new Infrastructure Bill to create a basis for an Allowable Solutions offsetting mechanism to help deliver the zero carbon policy:

[As] “there are insufficient powers in the Building Act to introduce off-site allowable solutions, so the Government will now bring forward enabling powers for this.”

The Government also confirmed press reports from earlier this week that it is to make further changes to the detail of the zero carbon policy:

·         “The Zero Carbon Home standard will be set at Level 5 [Energy] of the Code for Sustainable Homes, but the legislation will allow developers to build to Level·4 {Energy] as long as they offset through the allowable solutions scheme to achieve Code 5.”

·         “Small sites, which are most commonly developed by small scale house builders, will be exempt [from requirements above Code Level 4]. The definition of a small site will be consulted on shortly, and set out in regulation.

These are important changes which are designed to improve the deliverability of the zero carbon policy from 2016 by confirming provision for Allowable Solutions, reducing the cost impacts for all developers and particularly assisting smaller builders who are likely to have to implement the full zero carbon policy across their schemes as a whole at an early stage. 

We will seek to clarify the full detail of this announcement on the policy and the prospective cost savings that would result and advise members further as soon as we can.

Other proposals in the Infrastructure Bill

The proposed Infrastructure Bill would also include provisions to:

·         “..allow certain types of planning conditions to be discharged upon application if a local planning authority has not notified the developer of their decision within a prescribed time period, reducing unnecessary delay and costs.” [This would be enactment of the Government’s existing proposal to act to prevent development delays resulting from difficulties in discharging (pre-commencement) planning conditions.]

·         Public sector land: “.. permit land to be transferred directly from arms-length bodies to the Homes and Communities Agency, reducing bureaucracy and managing land more effectively.”

·         “.. ensure that future purchasers of land owned by the Homes and Communities Agency and the Greater London Authority will be able to develop and use land without being affected by easements and other rights and restrictions suspended by the Agency.”

·         “.. transfer statutory responsibility for the local land charges register and delivery of local land charges searches to the Land Registry supporting the delivery of digital services and extend Land Registry’s powers to enable it to provide information and register services relating to land and other property.

In the Queen’s Speech itself, Her Majesty said with reference to the Infrastructure Bill:

“My government will increase housing supply and home ownership by reforming the planning system, enabling new locally-led garden cities and supporting small house building firms.

“Legislation will be brought forward to sell high value government land, encouraging development and increasing housing.

“My ministers will continue to promote the Help to Buy and Right to Buy schemes to support home ownership.”

In today’s announcements, the Government also confirmed that it would:

“Amend secondary legislation to further reform change. of use rules to· make it easier for empty and redundant buildings to be converted into productive use, supporting brownfield regeneration and increase the supply of new homes.”

Full details of the Queen’s Speech legislative proposals can be read at:

https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/316702/Queens-Speech-2014.pdf

John Slaughter
Director of External Affairs