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The Queen’s Speech – what it means for homeowners

As the Queen's Speech and the government sets out its agenda for the year ahead, we look at the impact on homeowners

4 minute read

Queen's Speech

The biggest shake up to the planning system in more than 70 years was revealed in the Queen’s Speech. The Planning Bill aim is to simplify planning for housing so that homes and infrastructure can be delivered more quickly.

It comes as the government aims to build 300,000 new homes each year.  This is much more than the 192,725 homes currently being built.

The bill will extend to the whole of the UK however the majority of changes will only apply to England.

However, the bill looks set to be contentious. The Times has awarded it a ‘Controversy Rating’ of 5* – out of 5 as it would ‘remove the power from local planning authorities to turn down housing developments if they meet set standards and force local authorities to set new zones for housing’. It also says the PM is already facing opposition from his own MPs, who fear it could allow big new developments in their areas against the will of local people.

Traffic light system for planning

If approved, a new traffic light system will be introduced which will see areas divided up by local councils into areas designated for ‘growth’, ‘protection’ or ‘renewal’. In growth areas, automatic outline planning permission will be granted for applications for new homes, shops, offices, schools and hospitals as long as they meet local planning rules.

In protection and renewal zones, development will be more restricted.

Other key changes

  1. The proposed changes also include moving away from a document-based planning system to a digital and map-based service. It’s hoped this will encourage residents to be more engaged with the development of their local area rather than opposing individual developments
  2. The government is also aiming to change local plans so that they provide more certainty about the design and type of development permitted.
  3. The bill also aims to use ‘post-Brexit freedoms to simplify and enhance the framework for environmental assessments for developments’.

A mixed response 

Unsurprisingly, the announcement has divided opinion. The Royal Town Planning Institute Chief Executive Victoria Hills said, ‘We strongly welcome the greater certainty for development in “Growth” zones, which will ensure homes can be built in areas where they are badly needed. ‘Zoning for growth must be combined with active support to see projects through, with masterplanning and specialist proactive teams. Government has a chance to be truly ambitious here and deliver beautiful, healthy and well-connected green development.’ 

However, Tom Fyans, campaigns and policy director of the Campaign to Protect Rural England said the Planning Bill ‘risks creating a free-for-all for development’. He said, ‘We know from painful experience that, without the right checks and balances in the planning process, developments can lead to a huge and unnecessary loss of countryside while doing nothing to tackle the affordable housing crisis or level up.’

Need for engagement

We welcome the move to a digital process and the hope this will better engage residents. In fact, research by HomeOwners Alliance found 8 in 10 UK residents would be more supportive of new homes being built in their local communities if developments are considerate of local needs.

And while rural communities are perceived to be more against new developments, our research found that isn’t the case. The proportion saying they would be more supportive of new homes is similar among rural communities (82%) and urban and town communities (84%) when developments address local priorities.

However, for rural communities, genuinely consulting local residents is more important for them than in other parts of the UK (rural 44% vs overall 39%).

Potentially a great move – but locals’ voices need to be heard

Paula Higgins, Chief Executive of the HomeOwners Alliance says, ‘We support measures to deliver more affordable new homes where it is needed. However, this should be no excuse not to work with locals to get the best development in their area.

‘The point is to build good quality housing that benefits the local communities as well as new infrastructure. Although we note there was no mention of ‘Infrastructure first’, which was outlined in the Conservative’s 2019 Manifesto which pledged to amend planning rules so that infrastructure such as schools and GP surgeries come before people move into new homes.

Leasehold Reform Bill 

Soaring ground rent charges have been a serious issue for some homeowners, leaving some unable to sell their homes. With this Bill, the government proposes ‘to end the practice of ground rents for new leasehold properties’, other than a ‘peppercorn rent’ amount.

‘We support the ending of onerous ground rent on new build properties although that practice has been stamped out as lenders refused to lend in these cases,’ says Paula. ‘However, we are concerned that this is aimed specifically at new leases. What about current leaseholders?

Building Safety Bill

A new system for regulating the safety of high-rise buildings and inspecting construction sites  will be set out in the Building Safety Bill.

Speaking of the Bill, the Queen told Parliament, ‘My ministers will establish in law a new Building Safety Regulator to ensure that the tragedies of the past are never repeated.’

The bill is expected to categorise a further 13,000 buildings as higher risk. And it will legislate for the introduction of the new Building Safety Regulator.

Also included in the Bill is the creation of a New Homes Ombudsman. However, as we reported in February, the New Homes Ombudsman will be appointed by the newly-launched New Homes Quality Board. While we are pleased to see the housebuilding industry taking the initiative to address the quality of new build homes, we have some concerns about an industry-led board.

What’s missing? 

The expected Renters Reform Bill didn’t materialise in the Queen’s speech. However, the Government announced its plans for a series of consultations and possible reforms. Renters will need to wait until the autumn when the Government said it would publish a White Paper detailing a reform package. Once these reforms have been considered by experts and stakeholders, the Government intends to bring forward legislation.

Leave a comment (10)* Required

  1. Pete RylettPete Rylett

    Most town and parish councils have adopted Neighbourhood Plans, which are in sync with the more strategic Development Plan in their area. The best versions of these Neighbourhood Plans have identified what type of housing is needed locally and have allocated land in the plan for that development. These plans were founded on comprehensive public consultation and engagement and so it will be a great pity if all that work is now swept aside.

  2. Cathy PriestleyCathy Priestley

    Nothing on estate charges which is another way developers maximise their profits from a site. Estate infrastructure is not up to adoption standards and the home buyers pick up the tab for maintenance. Open space and other amenities are included in 106 agreements thus reducing the overall cost to the developers. Long term blight is inevitable unless something is done to ban this model.

  3. Tony WrightTony Wright

    Council Tax bands for all properties should be re-evaluated when property improvements are completed.

  4. Keira NinnessKeira Ninness

    It’s not fair that leaseholders (new OR old) should still have to pay ground rent to wealthy landlords – we need to fight to have it abolished across the board!!

  5. Peter DavisPeter Davis

    Relaxed planning? The Green belt is already being destroyed by the changes implemented under Pickles term as Secretary of State. 300k houses a year, just what we need wherever you go in England there are new houses everywhere. Soon there will be no open green spaces left. Its a Shame there is no legislation planned for existing leasholders, but what else can we expect from this government?

  6. Nina MerchantNina Merchant

    Very dispappointing but not surprising from this govt. It appears that this Govt believes they have all the answers with limited local consultation. Aboslutley nothing on the cladding issues where 1000s of people are trapped, not able to sell, get mortgage though no fault of their own. When will Minister Jenrick hold landlords like Aviva to be accountable and also the councils who passed the Bdgs Regs. This needs urgent attention, please Mr. Johnson. Leaseholders are suffocating with anxiety as no one is listening!!

  7. JillJill

    As well as leaseholders–what about service or estate charges for freehold properties? We’re deterred from buying new as most new builds are subject to these ridiculous charges.

  8. ValerieValerie

    Onerous ground rents which already exist prevent mortgage lenders agreeing finance and properties are thus unsaleable. Lease extension to remove Ground Rent clauses are still far too costly.

  9. Frances CumminsFrances Cummins

    Totally agree with previous comment re ground rent. Why aren’t current leaseholders, of which I am one, included in this reform?

  10. LolaLola

    The whole institute of leasehold is outdated, does not exist anywhere else and is a thinly veiled version of wealthy landlords getting richer off the rest. It should be abolished altogether – if one buys a house/ flat, they should also own the land it is on.

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