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Housing and Planning Bill update: House of Lords squares up for battle with government on key amendments

Date: 05/05/16

Housing and Planning Bill update: House of Lords squares up for battle with government on key amendments

Last night the House of Lords again had the chance to amend the Housing and Planning Bill following a session in the House of Commons on Tuesday which had resulted in the rejection of most of the changes Peers had made to the legislation last month (more on the Commons debate in yesterday’s briefing here).

On most of the key amendments, the House of Lords successfully amended the Bill to include the same – or similar – provisions agreed at the House of Lords Report Stage but which were formally ‘disagreed with’ by the House of Commons on Tuesday. This prolongs the period of ‘ping pong’ between both Houses of Parliament

The full three and half hour Lords debate can be read here. A summary of the current position on some of the important Lords amendments can be found below.

Starter Homes taper

In the Commons the Government had rejected a Lords amendment to introduce a 20 year taper on buyers’ realisation of the full Starter Homes discount, successfully tabling an amendment in lieu which will give the Secretary of State powers through regulations to determine the precise operation of a tapered discount period.

This was unopposed in the House of Lords with Lord Best, the author of the previous amendment to introduce a 20 year taper, encouraging the Government to consider a 10 year taper as part of the ongoing Technical Consultation.

Starter Homes requirement discretion for local authorities

Having had his previous amendment passed in the Lords but rejected by the House of Commons, Lord Kerslake tabled a new amendment which, rather than giving local authorities the ability to assess the need for Starter Homes in their area, would give councils the opportunity to seek other low cost home ownership products in place of or as well as Starter Homes. This would see developers meet the Starter Homes requirement with a range of low cost home ownership tenures determined by the local authority.

This new amendment was passed with a majority of 60 and now forms part of the Housing and Planning Bill that will return to the Commons early next week.

Neighbourhood right of appeal

Baroness Parminter’s new amendment introducing a neighbourhood right of appeal where a neighbourhood plan is in place was passed with a majority of 34. The previous amendment conferred the same right on areas with an emerging neighbourhood plan.

Debate centred on the concept of third-part rights of appeal and the Government’s view that this could hold up development. Labour frontbenchers argued that the planning process is not holding up house building, quoting previously discredited figures on the number of unbuilt planning permissions.

Sustainable Drainage Systems (SuDS)

Baroness Parminter re-tabled the amendment to remove the automatic right of connection for house builders and give greater powers to local authorities to demand on-site SuDS solutions. The amendment was, again, passed by the Lords. This time with a majority of 24.

HBF intends to write to interested parliamentarians to re-confirm its opposition to this amendment.

Zero carbon

Baroness Parminter moved the same amendment on introducing the carbon compliance standard in 2018 which had been rejected in the Commons the night before. Again it was passed by the House of Lords. This time with a majority of 34. The Labour peers, Lord Kennedy and Baroness Parminter, again suggested the industry is sympathetic to the standard. Viscount Younger offered to write to Lord Kennedy with a list of organisations that do not support the amendment.

HBF has reiterated its opposition to the amendment following a similar note to Peers earlier in the week and has written to Viscount Younger specifically on this point.

Baroness Parminter went so far as to question whether peers should take house builders’ views into account:

‘…we do not have to listen just to housebuilders. Of course we have to do that, which is why we sought to show at length in Committee that our amendment would not affect the viability of the houses we desperately need; but we have to listen also to the voices of home owners who will save money on their energy bills through this amendment, and to future generations, who need us now to start getting serious about tackling our greenhouse gas emissions.’

We will continue to keep you updated on the progress of the Bill through briefings and the HBF Weekly News Summary.

David O’Leary

Policy Director