The government published a new planning white paper, Planning for the Future, on 6 August.
The paper sets out proposals for major reforms to the planning system, including a proposal to replace existing developer contributions to affordable housing with a new levy on all development, combining Section 106 and the Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL).
A second consultation on important short-term changes to the current planning system was also published.
The white paper is open for consultation until 29 October and puts forward the following proposals:
The consultation on short-term changes includes:
We welcome the government’s overall ambition to improve the planning process, speed up housing delivery, and focus on good design and community engagement.
However, the proposed replacement of Section 106 – which currently delivers about half of all new affordable homes – has serious implications for the amount of affordable homes housing associations can build. Smaller and rural housing associations are particularly reliant on Section 106 contributions to deliver new affordable homes and would be disproportionately affected by the short-term changes to the current system too.
The white paper acknowledges the importance of maintaining affordable housing delivery, and commits to the new levy delivering ‘at least as much, if not more on-site affordable housing as at present’.
However, we need clarity on how this would in practice and how housing associations’ impressive record of affordable housing delivery will be safeguarded.
In particular, it will be vital that funding from the levy is ringfenced for affordable housing, that housing associations can access it easily, and that affordable housing delivery is not lost in areas where the levy will generate less income.
Housing associations are ready to engage constructively with the government on these proposals to deliver a good outcome for affordable housing, and we welcome the ambition to speed up housing delivery. Ministers and officials have said they are keen to work closely and in dialogue with the sector.
We have also been clear to ministers on our concerns about the proposed changes to section 106, and the potential consequences if a new system does not protect the sector’s ability to deliver much-needed affordable housing.
We will continue to engage directly with the government, and will produce a full sector response to the white paper consultation and the short-term consultation.
Our priority now is working with our members over the coming weeks to understand the potential implications of these proposed reforms. This will include:
We are keen to hear our members’ initial views and questions on these proposals, so please get in touch.