HBF Back Chancellor’s ‘Ambitious Plans for Housing’

Rachel Reeves’s first formal address as Chancellor of the Exchequer has been met with optimism from the Home Builders Federation as she pledged major planning reform.

Her speech on Monday 8 July outlined the steps the new Government will take to ‘fix the foundations of our economy’ and ‘grasp the nettle’ of planning reform.

As part of the announcement, the Chancellor reconfirmed the Government’s commitment to delivering 1.5 million homes and to reforming the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF), including reinstating mandatory housing targets before the end of the month.

Following the speech, Neil Jefferson, Chief Executive of the Home Builders Federation, said:

“The home building industry stands ready to support the Chancellor’s ambitious plans for housing with investment, job creation and the new homes the country needs.

“As she identified, we can only build if we plan effectively and if councils take responsibility for the housing needs of their communities. We also need to address the lack of capacity in local authority planning departments and unblock the 160,000 homes held up by nutrient neutrality.

“We must also consider the current struggles of first-time buyers to take their first steps on the housing ladder. In this environment it is frustrating that, for the first time in decades, there is no active government support for aspiring homeowners.

“Building the homes the country needs will address the social issues our housing crisis is creating, provide young people with access to decent housing, whilst creating tens of thousands of jobs and boosting investment in communities in every area of the country.”

HBF have made a series of recommendations

HBF has published a housing blueprint for the next government, detailing measures it believes are crucial to tackling decreasing housing supply and addressing existing barriers to home builders delivering much-needed homes, including:

  • Calls for a new, targeted first-time buyer scheme, the expansion of green mortgages and the abolishment of stamp duty for the purchase of homes with an A or B EPC.
  • Finding a resolution to nutrient neutrality – including calls to bring forward legislation to unblock 160,000 homes currently on hold due to Natural England’s disproportionate mitigation measures.
  • Reinstating mandatory housing targets and the Five-Year Housing Land Supply,
  • Reform of the Standard Method of Housing Need
  • Ringfencing planning application fees for planning purposes
  • Acceleration of the implementation of National Development Management policies.
  • Developing a roadmap for the talent pipeline needed to deliver low-carbon, sustainable housing
The Chancellor outlined seven key policies 

In her speech, the Chancellor spoke at length about the ‘antiquated’ nature of the planning system, and laid out the government’s plans for reform. She said:

“Nowhere is decisive reform needed more urgently than in the case of our planning system.

“Today, alongside the Deputy Prime Minister, I am taking immediate action to deliver this government’s mission to kickstart economic growth, and to take the urgent steps necessary to build the infrastructure that we need, including one and a half million homes over the next five years.”

The seven key policies she outlined were:

  1. Reform the National Planning Policy Framework to a growth-focussed approach by the end of July, including restoring housing targets and lifting the ban on new onshore wind in England.
  2. Prioritise energy projects and expand the spatial plan for energy to other infrastructure sectors to expedite progress.
  3. Create a taskforce to accelerate stalled housing sites, beginning with Liverpool Central Docks, Worcester Parkway, Northstowe, and Langley Sutton Coldfield.
  4. Provide 300 additional planning officers across the country to support local authorities.
  5. Enable direct ministerial intervention in the planning system, paying particular attention to the economic benefits of developments and the use of Brownfield and grey belt land to meet housing targets and deliver social housing.
  6. Reform the planning system to deliver essential transport and net zero infrastructure.
  7. Outline new policy intentions for critical infrastructure in the coming months, ahead of updating relevant National Policy Statements within the year.