Spring Statement 2019 – a look behind the headlines

 

The Spring Statement on 13 March, delivered amidst a flurry of Brexit votes, was accompanied by several noteworthy housing and planning messages intended to support the government’s continued ambition to raise housing supply to reach 300,000 a year on average.

A three-year Spending Review will be launched before the summer recess and will be concluded alongside an autumn Budget. The 2019 Spending Review will have a focus on the outcomes achieved for the money invested in public services.  In  that context, alongside the Spring Statement, a revised Public Spending Public Value Framework was released which would guide decisions in the Spending Review.

Future Homes Standard – There will be a consultation this year on what could be a wide-ranging standard to apply from 2025 so that new build homes are future-proofed with low carbon heating – this could tackle previous concerns the Chancellor has expressed about new-build quality.

A consultation on Infrastructure Finance was published seeking views on how the government can best support private infrastructure investment in the context of the UK’s changing relationship with the European Investment Bank.  It also asks if the government should consider alternative forms of infrastructure finance support for housing associations in the context of the end of European Investment Bank funding.

The Chancellor reiterated the government’s commitment to publishing a National Infrastructure Strategy – the first of its kind – setting out the government’s priorities for economic infrastructure and responding to recommendations in the National Infrastructure Commission’s National Infrastructure Assessment.

Letwin Review – the government issued its response to the review of build-out rates on large sites conducted by Sir Oliver Letwin. It stated there was ‘widespread acceptance of Sir Oliver’s analysis across the sector’ and confirms the findings ‘that it is the market absorption rate that determines the rate at which developers build out large sites’. Additional planning guidance on housing diversification will be published shortly.  A focus on evolving the existing system of developer contributions and gathering evidence to explore the case for further reform was confirmed.

It was announced that an Accelerated Planning Green Paper would be published ‘later this year’ on how greater capacity and capability, performance management and procedural improvements can accelerate the end-to-end planning process.  This will also draw on the Rosewell Review, which made recommendations to reduce the time taken to conclude planning appeal inquiries.  Government will also consider the case for further reforms to the compulsory purchase regime.

Permitted development – Government will implement an immediate package of permitted development right measures in the spring, with the more complex matters, including on upward extensions, covered in a further package of regulations in the autumn.  There will be a range of reforms in this area and government will shortly publish “Better Planning for High Streets”.  This will set out tools to support local planning authorities in reshaping high streets, particularly with the use of compulsory purchase and local development orders.

The Spring Statement is an opportunity for the Chancellor to respond to the Office for Budget Responsibility’s (OBR) forecasts for the growth and the public finances. The OBR now includes as a policy risk the expansion of right-to-buy to tenants of housing associations given the costs of discounts would fall on the Treasury and notes that despite the local pilot scheme, work at a national level is “ongoing”.

So, there is still plenty happening for the housing sector – or not happening – as MPs continue to debate Brexit.

For details about the key announcements from the Spring Statement see our On the Day Briefing.

Planning Reform and increasing the delivery of new homes

As part of the Budget on 29 October, the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) published a consultation, Planning Reform: Supporting the high street and increasing the delivery of new homes, which sets out proposed planning reforms to support high streets and make best use of land and buildings to deliver more homes.

The consultation includes a proposal to create a new permitted development right allowing commercial buildings to be demolished and redeveloped as housing and another that would allow buildings to be extended upwards.  The government believes the plans would help revive high streets and create additional housing.

The consultation also seeks views on allowing hot food takeaways to change to residential use without the need for planning permission and proposes extending existing time-limited permitted development rights.

There are a number of implications for planning authorities, and for communities.

Developing former retail premises to create mixed-use properties, including residential, will be a lucrative opportunity for developers.  Some 72% of property professionals, including investors, owners, developers, consultants, contractors, property managers and letting agents see residential development of former retail premises as a way forward[1].

The British Property Federation insist there is a place in the current planning system for permitted conversion of commercial buildings into homes,  ’Breathing life back into underused or vacant office buildings not only supports much-needed housing supply but it is vital to our town and cities’ economic and social wellbeing.’

Voices of opposition have warned that the relaxation of planning regulations is likely to result in developers bypassing requirements for affordable housing, pressure on local infrastructure and ignoring minimum housing space standards.

The Town and Country Planning Association has warned that the government’s planned expansion of permitted development will deprive local authorities of essential funding and risks creating poor living conditions.

The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors in May 2018 concluded that “PD residential quality was significantly worse than schemes which required planning permission”[2]. Their research finds that local authorities could have lost out on up to £10.8m from ‘planning gain’ and around 1,667 affordable housing units (as of May 2018).  When local authorities were asked whether permitted development had made a positive impact on their affordable housing stock, only 4% agreed.

The Raynsford Review[3] called on ministers to act to ‘end the commitment to extend permitted development to the demolition and rebuilding of office and commercial buildings’ and to ‘return powers over permitted development to local government’.

The PD policy generates substantial controversy and has had adverse consequences in some areas which can detract from the vibrancy of high streets and can create poor quality homes.  But with a surplus of empty retail units and a scarcity of available land for housing developments there continues to be support for these developments which taps into the potential of empty buildings to offer new homes.

 

Please let us have your views – do you think there should be extension of permitted development rights for converting retail units? Is there a role for permitted development rights to provide homes by extending properties upwards? Do you think there should be a new permitted development right to allow hot food takeaways to change to residential use?

Let us know how you intend to respond to these questions.  Please get in touch with Karen.brown@northern-consortium.org.uk

The consultation document is available here and is open until 14th January 2019

Current Government consultations

A number of consultations with the sector are currently open ranging across issues such as leasehold, planning reform, consumer redress and local government finance.

If you are responding to any of the consultations, it would be helpful if you could provide us with a copy of your consultation response to help with our deliberations. If you have any queries on any of these documents please get in touch with Karen.brown@northern-consortium.org.uk

 

Considering the case for a Housing Court: call for evidence

This call for evidence seeks views and opinions from landlords, tenants and the judiciary to help the government to better understand and improve the experience of people using courts and tribunal services in property cases, including considering the case for a specialist Housing Court.

The consultation is available here and is open until 22nd January 2019

 

Provisional local government finance settlement 2019 to 2020: consultation

This consultation seeks views on proposals for the local government finance settlement for 2019 to 2020, in particular from representatives of local government.

The settlement includes an additional £20 million in funding for the New Homes Bonus and the baseline for growth, below which new allocations of the Bonus are not paid, will stay the same at 0.4%.

The 2019 Spending Review will confirm overall local government resourcing from 2020-21, and the Government is working towards reform in the local government finance system.  Prior to these reforms in 2020-21, the Government has also committed to publish a Green Paper on the future of Adult Social Care.

 

This consultation is available here and closes on 10 January 2019

 

Review of local authorities’ relative needs and resources

This consultation seeks views on the approach to measuring the relative needs and resources of local authorities, which will determine new baseline funding allocations for local authorities in England in 2020-21.

The consultation is open until 21 February 2019 and is available here.

 

Proposals for greener developments

The government is consulting on mandating biodiversity net gain in development to ensure habitats are protected and enhanced for the future.   In plans published for consultation, developers could be required to deliver a biodiversity net gain when building new housing or commercial development – meaning habitats for wildlife must be enhanced and left in a measurably better state than they were pre-development.

The consultation is available here and will run until 10 February 2019.

 

Reinvigorating commonhold: the alternative to leasehold ownership

The Law Commission has published its Consultation Paper on commonhold reform, “Reinvigorating commonhold: the alternative to leasehold ownership”. The paper, together with a summary and various other related documents, can be found at the following link: https://www.lawcom.gov.uk/project/commonhold/.

This Consultation Paper seeks to address the perceived shortcomings in the legal design of the commonhold scheme and proposes reforms of commonhold as a workable alternative to leasehold, for both existing and new homes.

The consultation period runs until 10 March 2019.

 

In addition, MHCLG is calling for proposals on Private Shared Homeownership

The government is seeking proposals to provide new routes into affordable home ownership.  This call for proposals covers three categories:

 private shared ownership which would be primarily privately funded

  • other private affordable homeownership products which should be primarily privately funded
  • other innovative routes into homeownership which do not require government investment but may require the removal of regulatory or other barriers

These proposals should provide new routes into homeownership by leveraging both private sector funding and capacity to deliver. The government offer is to either act as a co-funder of these proposals (investing on a loan or other recoverable basis) or to act as a facilitator removing regulatory or other barriers.

The document is available here and is open until 1st February 2019

 

The Northern Housing Consortium announces its Chief Executive, Jo Boaden CBE, will retire next Spring

The Northern Housing Consortium has announced that its Chief Executive, Jo Boaden CBE will be retiring in May 2019 after leading the organisation since 2010.

Jo was instrumental in forming the Commission for Housing in the North, bringing together key figures within the housing sector and beyond to highlight Northern housing issues in Westminster, and to open up the debate on regeneration. She was also influential in setting up the All Party Parliamentary Group for Housing in the North, ensuring the NHC, as secretariat, brings the housing sector and parliamentarians together to discuss and debate Northern housing policy.

More recently, she led the NHC as they commissioned influential research piece, ‘The Hidden Costs of Poor Quality Housing in the North’, which highlights the increased health impacts of those living in unfit homes.

Jo has tirelessly supported the NHC’s membership to provide a strong Northern voice and was awarded the CBE in the 2018 New Year’s Honours list in recognition of her services to housing providers in the North, and won the ‘Woman of the Year’ award in the 2018 Women in Housing Awards.

The NHC Board conducted a rigorous recruitment exercise supported by external advisers, and Tracy Harrison, currently Deputy Chief Executive, has been appointed to the post of Chief Executive upon Jo’s retirement.  Prior to joining the NHC in 2006, Tracy held a variety of senior marketing and business development posts in blue chip private sector organisations, including Fast Moving Consumer Goods giant, Robert McBride, and Sage Software. Tracy has been instrumental in growing the NHC’s commercial activities, enabling the NHC to increase its influencing role.

Tom Miskell, Chair, NHC said: “In her time as Chief Executive, Jo has led a successful transformational change agenda to position the NHC as the hugely influential and respected membership body that it is today. She has focused the organisations role in bringing members together with political stakeholders and other key figures in housing.

“I’ve thoroughly enjoyed working with Jo and know that she will be greatly missed by her colleagues, fellow Board members, and members alike. I’d like to thank Jo for the outstanding job that she has done and will continue to do as she leads the organisation until next year.”

Jo commented: “It has been a real privilege and a great pleasure to work with so many talented and committed people within the NHC, our Board, our membership and beyond. I will miss the NHC but will enjoy watching as Tracy takes the organisation from strength to strength.”

 

Ends.

 

 

NHC’s new Board members

 

The NHC were delighted to welcome five new Directors to our Board this autumn, and to have welcomed Barbara Spicer CBE as a co-opted Director in the summer.

The Board meets on a quarterly basis to manage and to set the strategic direction of the organisation. It ensures that policies and procedures are in place to meet core values and objectives and protect the organisational assets. Membership of the Board comprises six to twelve Directors including the Chair and one Vice Chair and up to three Co-Opted Directors, each of whom may sit for a maximum term of six years.

New Directors are appointed from Full member organisations, nominations are reviewed against a skills matrix of existing Directors to ensure that they are suitable to fill any vacancies as well as fully reflecting the sectoral geographical diversity of our membership, and across equality measures.

The NHC always looks for a diverse set of skills among the Directors to ensure a high level of experience in helping to lead the organisation forward as dynamic, agile and robust for the future. The organisation has recently welcomed six Board members with a wealth of experience in finance, housing management, governance, transformation, IT, growth and much more.

 

Yvonne Castle, Chief Executive, Johnnie Johnson Housing

Yvonne has significant executive experience working in social housing, the private, charity and local authority sectors for many years.

An accountant by profession, her trained ‘lean’ systems thinking and project manager experience sits alongside her love of all things ‘people’ – coaching and mentoring, delivering leadership and management development programmes, motivating and encouraging others to succeed.

Yvonne joined Johnnie Johnson Housing in July 2015 to lead the organisation’s change programme, becoming Chief Executive in 2017. She is also a Board and Audit and Risk Committee Member of a specialist provider of accommodation across Bradford, Calderdale and North Yorkshire.

 

Simon Costigan, Chief Officer Property and Contracts, Leeds City Council

Simon has worked for Leeds City Council since leaving school and has developed a wealth of knowledge and experience during his 38-year career in housing. Over his extensive career in housing he has been involved in the development of two Estate Management Boards, three individual housing PFI schemes, and recently spent 10 years working for one of the Leeds ALMO’s where he undertook the role of Chief Executive.

Since moving back into the Council five years ago Simon took up his current role and currently manages the City’s Capital Programme, manages the responsive repairs service to the City’s social housing stock of over 55,000 properties and also manages the Internal Service Provider with an annual turnover of £65m.

Simon’s passion is working with communities to improve service outcomes and to make a real difference to the quality of life for residents living in local communities across the City.

 

Liz Haworth, Group Director, Torus

Liz has worked as a senior leader within the housing sector for 16 years and currently leads on service delivery and transformation for Torus, a large North West housing provider based in Warrington and St Helens. Her previous experience is with local government and the financial services sector.

Liz’s specialisms include: housing management, social investment, neighbourhood management, services for older people and supported housing, development of digital, data and IT strategies, transformation and delivery of efficiency targets, merger and integration.

She is particularly passionate about creating an organisation that is fit for the future, both in the way that it provides services to tenants, and the way it creates a working environment that is engaging and energising for employees.

Liz has served on a supported housing provider board and more recently as a Board Member of St Helens Chamber.

 

Ian Wardle, Chief Executive, Thirteen Group

 

Ian has provided leadership and direction for a range of complex services, projects and initiatives including working for two local authorities, a large multi-national PLC housebuilder, an arms-length public-private regeneration agency and currently he leads North East based housing association Thirteen Group.

Ian started his career in the North East as a graduate trainee at George Wimpey (now Taylor Wimpey) in Middlesbrough, moving onto the Sunniside Partnership in Sunderland and Director of Regeneration at Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council.

In April 2018 he took over as the secretary for Homes for the North which is an alliance of almost 20 large housing associations who want to deliver more homes across the North of England.

He cares passionately about the quality of life housing can provide. The delivery of high-quality homes and services has been the foundation of his working life and a key feature throughout his career over the last 20 years.

 

Lee Sugden, Chief Executive, Salix Homes

A qualified accountant, Lee has worked in housing for over 25 years in a variety of senior roles developing new and innovative solutions to housing problems. He is currently the Chief Executive of North West based housing provider Salix Homes after joining in 2014 to lead the organisation following the transfer of homes from Salford City Council, shaping the business to ensure it plays a full role in the transformation of the City of Salford.

He has played a Non-Executive role for a variety of other organisations including housing providers, local authorities and a further education college.

 

Barbara Spicer CBE, Chief Executive, Plus Dane

Barbara Spicer CBE is Chief Executive of Plus Dane – a housing association working across Merseyside and Cheshire with 13,500 homes.

Barbara worked for 20 years in local government, eight years of which were spent as Chief Executive of Salford City Council where she led key developments in the city, including the bid to relocate the BBC to Salford Quays at MediaCity UK, creating a development of international significance.

Passionate about the skills agenda, Barbara spent time in Westminster as interim Chief Executive of the Skills Funding Agency. She currently holds the position of Mayoral Advisor for Social Housing Growth at the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority and sits on the UK Capital of Culture Panel.

Her strong belief is that there are two things that are vitally important to the wellbeing of any individual: a real job with prospects and a decent home; Barbara has spent the vast majority of her career focused on trying to deliver those things for, and with, people who sometimes find it hard to deliver them for themselves, and using those two levers successfully to create sustainable communities.

Tracy Harrison speaking at EvoNorth

Our Deputy Chief Executive Tracy Harrison will be speaking at EvoNorth.

EvoNorth, taking place on 27-28 Feb 2019 is a two day conference, exhibition and networking dinner dedicated to championing the Northern Powerhouse.

Over the next four years, the Northern Powerhouse will spend £150bn on healthcare, £45bn on schools and education, £70bn on transport and connectivity and £1.4bn on housing and infrastructure, all alongside investments in other areas including science, business and innovation.

EvoNorth is encouraging collaboration by uniting leaders shaping the Northern Powerhouse to create a solid blueprint for future generations to come.

Partake in lively and engaging Q&As, dynamic round table discussions, thought-provoking and inspiring workshops and exhibitions, participate in powerful leader debates and have your voice heard.

Discussing topics from across these key focuses;

  • Transport and Connectivity
  • Business, Innovation and Investment
  • Science and Technology
  • Housing and Infrastructure
  • Education, Skills and Employment
  • Health, Social Care and Wellbeing

Fuel the conversation: visit the website here.

Consultations following Budget 2018

On the day of Budget 2018, government launched a number of consultations with the sector to support its target for housing supply to reach 300,000 a year.

If you are responding to any of the consultations, it would be helpful if you could provide us with a copy of your consultation response.

 

Changes to planning policy and guidance including the standard method for assessing local housing need

The publication of new household projections by the Office for National Statistics has led to a significant reduction in the overall numbers generated by the standard method for assessing local housing need.  This consultation sets out proposals to update planning practice guidance on housing need assessment to be consistent with increasing housing supply.

This consultation also proposes clarifications of national planning policy on: housing land supply; the definition of deliverable; and appropriate assessment.

The consultation document is available here and is open until 7th December 2018.

 

Planning reform: supporting the high street and increasing the delivery of new homes

Building on existing planning reforms, the government is consulting on new and amended permitted development rights and changes to use classes, including to support the regeneration of the high street and to extend existing buildings upwards to create new homes.

 

PLEASE LET US HAVE YOUR VIEWS

  • Do you think there is a role for permitted development rights to provide homes by extending properties upwards?
  • Do you think there should be a new permitted development right to allow hot food takeaways to change to residential use?

Let us know how you intend to respond to these questions.  Please forward your comments to Karen.brown@northern-consortium.org.uk

The consultation document is available here and is open until 14th January 2019

 

Private shared homeownership: call for proposals

The government is seeking proposals to provide new routes into affordable home ownership.  This call for proposals covers three categories:

 private shared ownership which would be primarily privately funded

  • other private affordable homeownership products which should be primarily privately funded
  • other innovative routes into homeownership which do not require government investment but may require the removal of regulatory or other barriers

The consultation document is available here and is open until 1st February 2019

If you have any queries on any of these documents please get in touch with Karen.brown@northern-consortium.org.uk

 

 

NHC Social Housing Green Paper Consultation Response

The Green Paper, ‘a new deal for social housing’ sets out some significant opportunities and challenges which go to the heart of the purpose of social housing.

During the open consultation period the NHC travelled to all three regions in the North to speak to its members in detail about the proposals and what this means for the future of the social housing sector and what this means for Northern providers.

The consultation is now closed and the NHC response is here. This is very much an ongoing piece of work. The Government will respond to the consultation responses in the new year and we will continue the dialogue with our members as the outcome of this national debate on social housing continues.