Queen's Speech

Property industry reacts to planning bill in Queen's Speech

Today (11th May), The Queen unveiled new laws that the government will be introducing to ensure the UK builds back better and stronger from the pandemic.

The State Opening of Parliament today follows the delivery of 44 bills in the last parliamentary session.

A number of bills have been carried over, including the environment bill, which will set legally binding environmental targets, and cement the UK’s leadership on climate change, as it hosts the international COP26 Summit in Glasgow later this year.

The Queen’s Speech outlined a long-awaited planning bill which aims to modernise the planning system so that more homes can be built.

A leasehold reform (ground rent) bill will also be brought forward to end the practice of ground rents for new leasehold properties.  

It was also confirmed that a new building safety regulator will be established in law to ensure that tragedies of the past are never repeated, under the building safety bill.

Property industry reacts to planning bill

Kate Davies, executive director of the Intermediary Mortgage Lenders Association (IMLA):

“Without wishing to appear unduly curmudgeonly, I think most commentators could be forgiven for reacting to the latest government announcement by saying, ‘We’ve heard it all before’.

“The announcement of a new planning bill aimed at helping to better designate land for development should be a positive step in the right direction towards building more homes in the UK, but we’ve had so many steps and promises in the past — all of which have led to relatively little.  

“There is a great opportunity for Boris Johnson’s government to be the first in nearly 20 years to make a real difference and deliver on its promises to address the current issues facing the housing market.  

“The big challenge will lie in whether it can take a sufficiently long-term strategic view of what needs to be done and set in motion projects that will not be fully delivered until after the life of this parliament and these politicians.”

Steven Charlton, managing director at Perkins&Will London:

“The government has taken bold steps towards resetting the way in which the planning system can help deliver sustainable economic growth.

"The new zoning rules not only simplifies the system, but should also accelerate planning for the development of knowledge clusters, for data-driven, creative, or high-technology industries which will be vital to the economic recovery and growth in the post-Covid period."

Dean Clifford, co-founder of Great Marlborough Estates:

"Whether owning a home turns you into a Tory is debatable, but what's not debatable is homeownership remains the aspiration for the vast majority of Britons and it is right the government should look to prioritise getting people onto the housing ladder.

“A new zonal system that simplifies the planning process would is a welcome move. 

“Planning authorities should also have the necessary resources to enforce the strict design codes promised and it is crucial that so-called 'growth' areas are fairly distributed and cover where housing need is greatest."

Mark Hayward, chief policy adviser at Propertymark: 

“A greater supply of homes will serve to correct the imbalance between supply and demand which has been intensified by the stamp duty holiday. 

“The government has made a number of announcements in the past on simplifying the planning process, however this will only work if it really reflects local needs and demands. 

“We hope the planning bill outlined today encourages the development of housing in more affordable areas as, at the moment, most of the development taking place is in areas that are unaffordable to first-time and lower income buyers.”

Ben Dyer, CEO of Powered Now:

"It is promising to see the government seek to radically simplify the planning process. At the moment, it takes far too long for planning to get through the system, with it broadly working the same way for small developments as larger projects, which in turn is hugely disproportionate. We would hope to see the introduction of a simple rules-based approach rather than the decision of a committee, therefore resulting in a faster decision and appeal process. 

"This would also require a clear local policy. We believe it should be a requirement that all county councils should have a clear housing and development policy. This will increase the transparency on what can and can't be built and will save a lot of time, effort and money. This policy should focus on protecting green spaces by relaxing planning rules on brownfield land.

"Further to this, the plans should include simpler planning for the renovation of existing buildings and relax the rules for homeowners who want to improve their houses. Within this, there is an opportunity for the government to make a concerted effort on the aesthetic of homebuilding, that has been sorely ignored on a national level for so long. A carrot and stick approach that rewards developers for building outstanding and unique buildings, while penalising generic out of character developments would be hugely welcome.”

Dave Sheridan, executive chairman at ilke Homes:

“The proposed changes will help the government achieve its ambitious targets of delivering 300,000 new homes a year and will bring much-needed stock to the housing market. While delivering more housing is vital, and rightly a central part of the reforms, policymakers must ensure that homes being delivered today are suitable for tomorrow.

“By reserving public land exclusively for factory-built homes, which, due to precision-engineering techniques and the utilisation of low-carbon technologies, are highly energy efficient, the government will ensure that its housing policies are aligned with its climate ones.

“Such a policy could also help create jobs and stoke new investment into technology across the North — where the UK’s offsite manufacturing industry has a critical mass — which would be a huge boost for Boris Johnson’s levelling-up agenda.”

Mike Derbyshire, head of planning at Bidwells:

“While we're pleased to see the government re-commit to sweeping reforms of the planning system, accelerated measures that translate these proposals into much needed legislation will be vital. This isn’t the time for dither or delay.

“To free up our fastest growing towns and cities, like Oxford and Cambridge, the government must consider development risks stunting their growth. That means reviewing the purpose of the Green Belt and championing opportunity areas for life sciences and technological advancement.

"We all agree that growth should be ‘green and good’, but this phrase is being used too readily and too frequently by too many authorities to actually prevent the growth we need."

Pete Ladhams, managing director at Assael Architecture:

“The planning system was urgently in need of an overhaul, and we welcome a shortened and more efficient planning process.

"In growth areas, enabling the automatic planning approval of offices, homes, retail, hospitals and schools will allow architects to respond to the urgent needs of towns and cities swiftly.

“But, as architects, our role will now be to design these buildings and ensure they’re high-quality, contextually sensitive to local aesthetics, and that they are helping to form and strengthen communities and bridge the gap between existing residents and new developments.”

Leave a comment