skip to main content

National news

Homes England publishes new strategic plan

We desperately need more homes in the right places across the country, where people want to live, the government says.

Nationally, the average house now costs eight times the median income. In some places that number rises well into double digits and as a result, a whole generation can no longer afford to get on the housing ladder.

The government has a clear ambition to increase levels of housebuilding with the aim of delivering 300,000 new homes a year. The new Homes England strategic plan for 2018/19-2022/23 looks into the detail of how to achieve this.

Read the full report:



Net supply figures for 2017-18

A new report shows that annual housing supply in England amounted to 222,194 net additional dwellings in 2017-18, up 2.2% from 217,345 in 2016-17.

The report, from leading planning and development consultants Lichfields, agrees this is a positive increase, but it still means the number of new homes is almost 80,000 below the government’s stated aim of delivering 300,000 new homes per year.

The 222,194 net additions in 2017-18 resulted from 195,290 new build homes, 29,720 from change of use between non-domestic and residential, 4,550 from conversions between houses and flats and 680 other gains (caravans, house boats etc.), offset by 8,050 demolitions.

13,526 of the net additions from change of use were through ‘permitted development rights’ without the need for full planning permission. These comprised 11,555 additional dwellings converted from former offices, 743 from converted agricultural buildings, 218 from storage buildings, 110 from light industrial buildings and 900 from other non-domestic buildings.

Read the full report:



Section 106 and CIL – is the system working?

Receipts from Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) and Section 106 agreements should be used to help facilitate and strengthen new and existing community amenities.

The purpose of a Section 106 agreement specifically is to mitigate the impact of new housing on the local community and local infrastructure. In other words, a new houses will mean more cars on local roads and greater demand for local school places.

However, there is undoubtedly some weakness in the system and some – although by all means not all – local authorities consistently fail to meet their obligations to spend the money quickly and productively on the infrastructure it is meant to support.

In 2014 there was more than £1.5 billion of unused Section 106 monies sitting in local authority bank accounts, although we acknowledge this figure has fallen recently. The government launched a land value capture inquiry in the summer to look at options going forward.

Overall, we at Richborough do not suggest reviewing the current system.

Instead, using our membership of the Land Promoters and Developers Federation (LPDF), who have prepared a response to the government consultation on the process, we are urging the government to support the current arrangements to make them more effective.

We think the current system works but could be improved, and the government should concentrate on bringing local authorities with a poor record of dealing with Section 106 monies into line.

At the same time, we have to remain alive to local council’s making changes to charging zones within their local authority areas and the impact this can have on potential sites for housing development.

One example of this was on a site we promoted through the council’s Local Plan at Hampton Magna in Warwickshire. Warwick District Council proposed changing the zone the land was in, from Zone A to Zone D, and vastly increasing the CIL payable as a result, from £572,000 to £1,590,000.

We objected and argued that the changes, and the increased CIL costs, would make the site unviable. The CIL Examination Inspector agreed with us and ordered Warwick District Council to put the site back into its previous zone (A).

Read more on the general topic of CIL and Section 106 agreements on the LPDF website:



Govt bans combustible material in external cladding

News that the government will ban combustible material in external cladding on high rise buildings has been welcomed by the development industry.

In the summer the government published its response to a review following the Grenfell Inquiry and said it would ban the use of combustible materials on external walls of high-rises.

This was confirmed in October with a ban announced on all residential buildings above 18 metres, including flats, care homes, student accommodation and hospitals. It provides all those involved in developing new homes some clarity.

The announcement follows evidence presented to the official Grenfell Tower Fire Inquiry earlier in 2018.

More details on the announcement:

More on the Grenfell Inquiry:



Garden communities part of solution

The new Garden Communities prospectus landed in October and is designed to inspire the next generation of sustainable communities in England.

A century after Ebenezer Howard promoted the Garden City concept, many feel that the approach is even more relevant today than it was then. The prospectus calls for ambitious, locally supported, proposals for new garden communities to be built at scale.

The country needs to build desirable and sustainable new homes, the report claims, creating places people are happy to call home, places where they can form thriving communities, places that lift spirits whether people live in them, visit or merely pass through.

For proposals within the Oxford – Milton Keynes – Cambridge corridor, government will continue to work with local partners to consider how the delivery of up to one million new homes can best be supported.

Read the full prospectus:



CLA Policy briefing

More than 2,000 English villages risk being frozen in time because local authorities may not be taking their planning responsibilities seriously enough, a new report from the CLA (Country Land and Business Association) claims.

Many rural planning authorities have ruled that villages are unsustainable and not suitable for new homes or development, meaning villages risk becoming islands of facility-poor, increasingly ageing populations.

Cornwall, Wiltshire and central Lincolnshire are the areas with the most villages that, according to local planning strategies, cannot easily be expanded with new homes because they lack access to services such as post offices and primary schools.

And yet one local authority, Cornwall, has a much better track record of protecting communities and allowing development at the same time. A third of all small village developments across the UK happen in Cornwall, proving that the planning system can aid sustainable development.

Critics say the danger is the system encourages branding villages unsustainable which plays into the hands of nimby opponents that then cause a shortage of affordable rural housing, forcing younger people to move to towns and cities which then makes the remaining population even less sustainable.

Read the full report: