Government publishes landmark Housing and Planning bill

Published October 12th, 2015

What’s happened?

In the latest push to stimulate housing growth the government last week published a landmark Housing and Planning Bill. Among the provisions in this wide-ranging bill is the statutory framework for the Government’s ‘Starter Homes’ scheme which includes a new legal duty to be placed on councils to guarantee the provision of 200,000 starter homes on all reasonably sized new development sites. These will be offered to first-time buyers at a 20 per cent discount on market price.

Another key measure provides ministers with powers to intervene to ensure that all councils have local plans in place by 2017 as well as placing a requirement on Councils to keep registers of brownfield land and provide for automatic permission in principle on such sites.

In addition there is an extension of the right-to-buy discount to some housing association tenants and a duty on local authorities to sell their most expensive vacant homes. The bill also introduces planning reforms to support small builders by placing a new duty on councils to help allocate land to people who want to build their own home.

What does it mean?

Whilst the Bill is in its very early stages and does not become law until it gains Royal Assent, it is a significant statement of intent by the government to push through further planning reforms to stimulate growth and housing supply.

As always the devil will be in the detail however there is no doubt that the bill will open up opportunities for development, particularly on brownfield land. It is also pleasing to see the further attempts to speed up the local plans process which remains frustratingly slow and cumbersome for all involved. The move to help support small builders is consistent with previous legislation on this matter and will inevitably help stimulate and consolidate the strong local self-build market.

The bill can be read in full at

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More about Stuart Thomas

Head of Planning & Development
Tel: 01743 267069
Mobile: 07747 474340

Stuart has an MA in Town Planning and Development, an honours degree in Human Geography, is a full member of the Royal Town Planning Institute and is a PRINCE II Project Management Qualified Practitioner. He joined Berrys in May 2013 and became a partner of the firm in April 2014. He is Head of Planning, responsible for the delivery of planning services across all five offices. Prior to joining Berrys, Stuart held a number of senior Council positions including Head of Development Control at North Shropshire District Council and Area Planning Manager at Shropshire Council.

Stuart has 15 years of experience is all aspects of planning. Specific areas of expertise include agricultural and intensive poultry planning, affordable housing, strategic residential, renewable and commercial developments and rural housing. Stuart has also considerable experience in understanding the finer detail of National Planning Policy, Community Infrastructure Levy, S106 negotiations and planning appeals.