The Chancellor’s 2016 budget was announced yesterday. It included significant support for housing and infrastructure.
Annual housing starts are at an 8-year high. Planning permissions were granted for more than 250,000 homes last year. Nevertheless, the budget clearly stated that more needed to be done to continue this upward trend in housing delivery; to keep on track in delivering 400,000 affordable homes by 2020/21. Therefore, the Chancellor announced reforms which included the government’s intention to move to a more zonal planning approach. This approach enables local authorities to signal their development strategy from the outset. The aim is to reduce the number of stages developers have to go through to have planning granted. These developments have the potential to speed up the planning system, and to avoid unnecessary delays caused by planning conditions.
These additional planning reforms were supported by green lights for major infrastructure developments which included HS2, HS3 and Crossrail. Infrastructure development is of fundamental importance for housebuilding and communities. However, it is important that developers and councils both consider the timing impact of infrastructure reliance into their strategies. The latest HFi report, How to Build More Homes Faster, has made the case for Major Infrastructure Dependencies Mapping. This could ensure that major sites dependent on infrastructure have secured the funding they need to deliver to their full housing potential, and in a timely manner.
The budget made a commitment to ‘bring more land into the planning system to ensure more families have a chance to own a home’. It is important that land continues to be available for housing if the UK is to achieve its target of 1 million new homes. The government made a pledge to unlock public land in the Autumn Statement 2015, and have reaffirmed this position in the 2016 budget. For the first time ever, local authorities will collaborate with central government and other partners to release land for an additional 160,000 new homes. The new HFi report How to Build More Homes, Faster, identified actions to increase build out rates on land already with permission to build. This included recommendations for stronger collaboration between Councils and cross-sector partners, applying the tools to understand the potential benefits of releasing public land.
The budget made a commitment to continue to invest in housing. £20Billlion was committed to housing in the Spending Review for this parliament. Specific funds were announced in the budget. The government will provide £60m to community-led housing developments in rural and coastal communities where the impact of second homes is particularly acute. Given the recent devastation by flooding this winter particularly to homes, the budget made a commitment of £700m to further increase flood defence systems across the country.
Budget 2016 made a robust commitment to increase housebuilding and support infrastructure. There is still more that can be done for housing, to increase capacity and to deliver more homes faster. You can read our latest report, How to Build More Homes Faster here.