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Member Briefing: Infrastructure Plan includes measures to improve planning process and deliver thousands of new homes

Date: 02/12/14

Infrastructure Plan includes measures to improve planning process and deliver thousands of new homes

Ahead of tomorrow’s Autumn Statement, HM Treasury has today published the National Infrastructure Plan 2014 which includes significant measures aimed at improving the end-to-end planning process and bring forward major developments. Alongside the Plan, the ministers have also made a number of other announcements today on regeneration schemes, affordable housing funding and a new target for public land disposals.

Planning process:

Reflecting HBF’s discussions with ministers and work with government officials over recent months, the Infrastructure Plan includes new measures intended to speed up the planning process, including:

  • Ensuring that the principle of development need only be established once to give greater certainty in securing investment
  • Taking steps to speed up negotiations over Section 106 agreements, including revised guidance, consulting on a faster process for reaching agreement, consideration of new timescales for agreements, and improving the transparency on spending S106 receipts
  • Keeping the speed of decisions on major applications under review, with the minimum performance threshold increasing to 50% of major decisions on time as performance continues to improve

New towns and regeneration schemes:

Ministers have announced plans to unlock housing delivery in Northstowe, Cambridgeshire. In addition to a major improvement of the A14, the government will trial a new delivery model on the site that will see the Homes and Communities Agency take on a master-planning and commissioning role with a target of supporting the construction of 10,000 home new town on surplus public sector land up to twice as fast as conventional development routes. A report on the exact nature of the delivery vehicle, governance and investment is planned in time for Budget 2015 in March.

The Infrastructure Plan also includes an update on the development of a new garden city at Ebbsfleet, Kent, a £100m fund for infrastructure and land remediation, confirmation of road improvements to serve a new settlement and an announcement of a review of transport provision in the area.

Elsewhere today, Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg, has confirmed that Bicester, Oxfordshire, will be the location of the second new garden city. It is reported that the new town, which would have up to 13,000 homes would benefit from a £44 million capital investment for roads, including a new junction on the M40 and a government loan to provide for the development of amenities. 

Mr Clegg said “Bicester will get help from the Government with both significant capital investment and in helping developers build the amenities that are required to be a true garden town.”

Three major regeneration areas in London will also receive additional support for infrastructure:

  • Barking Riverside – Government will agree a principal heads of terms agreement for a loan of £55 million to support the extension of the London Overground to unlock delivery of 11,000 homes
  • Brent Cross – Government will support, subject to the business case, the London Borough of Barnet and the GLA’s plans for regeneration to deliver up to 7,500 homes
  • Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park – Government will invest £141 million in a higher education and cultural quarter in the Olympic Park

Affordable housing funding:

Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Danny Alexander has announced the extension of the capital settlement for affordable housing by £957 million per year between 2018/19 and 2019/2020. The additional £1.8bn is expected to deliver an average of 55,000 new homes a year until 2020.

Estates regeneration:

To increase access to affordable housing, four housing estates in London have been announced as beneficiaries under the £150 million estates regeneration programme, subject to due diligence and contract negotiations. These are Grahame Park, Aylesbury Estate, Blackwall Reach and New Union Wharf. It is expected that 8,000 homes will be built across these sites.

Public land:

The Government reports that it is “well on track” to release enough surplus public sector land for 100,000 homes between 2010 and 2015 and has today confirmed a new target of 150,000 homes between 2015 and 2020.

Shared ownership:

The government will launch a consultation on streamlining the process for selling shared ownership properties.

HBF comment:

While we await much of the detail behind these proposals, we are delighted that the government has listened to our concerns about the time, risk and expense associated with securing planning permission. Measures such as those proposed today will not only help to deliver more new homes they could also provide a much-needed boost to smaller house builders that have struggled to deal with the excessive planning and regulatory burdens imposed over the last couple of decades.

It is also encouraging to see fresh thinking applied to unlocking new developments such as new towns and garden cities. While delivery of new homes on such sites will only come to fruition over many years and should not be viewed as an alternative to short-term measures to boost house building, they are capable of playing a major role in alleviating the housing crisis in the longer-term.

More information:

The National Infrastructure Plan 2014 can be read here. The accompanying press release can be read here

The Chancellor’s Autumn Statement will take place tomorrow from 12.30pm. You can read more about HBF’s submission to the Autumn Statement here


David O’Leary

Deputy Director of External Affairs