On 12 May 2016 the Housing and Planning Bill first introduced in October 2015 has finally received Royal Assent and become law.
The Act sets out to allow more people to buy their own home and get houses built faster. Government Housing and Planning Minister Brandon Lewis said “[The Housing and Planning Act] will increase the housing supply alongside home ownership building on the biggest affordable house building program since the 1970s [and]…will contribute to transforming generation rent into generation buy.”
The Act will extend the right to buy discounts to housing association tenants and place a duty on local planning authorities to promote starter homes. It will free up more brownfield land to develop quickly and aims to simplify and speed up neighbourhood planning processes. The Act also places a duty on local councils to consider selling their higher value assets when they become vacant.
There is concern that the combination of right to buy type discounts for housing association tenants as well as a duty on councils to sell their highest value assets will lead to a drop in the number of homes available for social tenants. It stands to reason that the areas likely to be worst affected will be those in inner cities where property prices are naturally higher.
Shadow Secretary of State for Housing and Planning John Healey wrote recently in the Guardian newspaper online (click to read the story) that the charity Shelter estimate that 180,000 homes will be lost from the affordable housing stock as a result of the Act. Furthermore, there are fears that government cuts to funding to provide homes for social rent leaves housing associations to fill the gap.
It is expected that a further bill will be proposed by the government to place a duty onto councils to ‘prevent homelessness.’ Against the backdrop of cuts to housing benefit and homelessness services many housing associations fear that this will be an unmanageable task. Please click here for more information.