Queen Announces Support for Northern Powerhouse and Introduces Neighbourhood Planning and Infrastructure Bill During Parliament Speech

A Neighbourhood Planning and Infrastructure Bill to help the government build its target of one million homes by 2020 was one of 21 new legislation’s announced in the Queen’s Speech today.

During her speech at the state opening of Parliament, the Queen said the bill aims to streamline planning conditions to speed up new housing developments and make compulsory planning orders “clearer, fairer and faster”.

The measure will see the National Infrastructure Commission placed on a statutory footing and Land Registry privatised. It will also give local communities more say over neighbourhood planning.

Commenting on the bill, Stuart Law, CEO of Assetz for Investors, said: “The number of homes being granted planning permission is at the highest since 2007. A further 475,000 homes in England have been given planning permission so the government’s planning reforms are beginning to work and Britain is starting to build again.

“Our own research at Assetz shows that without a shadow of doubt more councils are granting planning permission on green belt sites or sites that may have had difficulty previously. It is a trend that we believe is set to accelerate and that is a good thing if we don’t want to see house prices continue to leap away out of reach of ordinary people and first time buyers get forced out of their neighbourhood.

“We know that when asked for residential planning permission, councils’ default position is now definitely becoming “yes” more often. But the government must now go further and give elected mayors the powers to drive development forward. The government would be doing the majority of the population a favour if it could finally end Nimbyism, because the greater good is to be done for the whole – not the few.”

However, Charles Holland, head of residential development and investment at Marsh & Parsons says “there can’t be a one-rule-fits-all approach to affordable housing in London.”

“As home ownership plummets to just 63 per cent of the population from nearly 70 per cent a few years ago, it’s vital that the development community is encouraged to build more property in London.

“Significantly increasing the supply of new homes will enable house prices to remain steady rather than becoming more out of reach for first-time buyers. Reports that Sadiq Khan intends to appoint a councillor from Islington as his deputy mayor, who has a history of blocking developments lacking proportionately higher levels of affordable or social housing, is a concern for the capital and could well be counter-productive in achieving his aim of lower value homes being built.

“We welcome the idea of greater affordability for the city’s young professionals – but to insist that all developments in London must provide 50 per cent affordable housing will have a significant negative impact on land values, which will result in landowners considering alternate uses or withholding the release of land completely.

“For land already acquired by developers / housebuilders, the new 50 per cent affordable housing requirement will render the majority of new-build projects unviable, thereby stemming the flow of much needed supply. Simply, there can’t be a one-rule-fits-all approach for such a diverse city, and the mayor and his housing chief must be careful not to stymie house building in London if they hope to reach their ambitious target of delivering 50,000 new homes each year.”

Angus Walker, partner in the planning and infrastructure department at Bircham Dyson Bell added: “The bill establishing the National Infrastructure Commission (the National Planning and Infrastructure Bill) will be a test of the government’s resolve to plan the UK’s long-term infrastructure needs and it will be interesting to see the extent to which it retains the final say on the Commission’s work.”

During her speech at the state opening of Parliament, the Queen also gave her support to the government’s planned development of a Northern Powerhouse and announced a Modern Transport Bill with measures to encourage investment in driverless cars, electric cars, commercial space planes and drones.

Elsewhere, key government priorities were also announced including the introduction of the drinks sugar tax in April 2018, a seven day NHS and a promise to tackle poverty and the causes of deprivation. New laws to encourage adoption and a shake-up of the prison system were also announced.

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