“Political tension palpable” says planning expert ahead of Budget

Further to the publication of new homes figures which show a 15% rise in the number of homes over the last year and ahead of next week’s Budget Jason Lowes, partner at Rapleys, commented:

“Today’s housing statistics show an increase in additional dwellings of 217,350 – by far the highest number since the financial crash and the second highest since 1991/92. Clearly, though, more needs to be done to ensure the development pipeline is primed to deliver the mix of housing stock required, and Phillip Hammond is facing calls to ensure his first Autumn Budget delivers a robust and impactful housing package.

“The political tension around housing and planning is palpable ahead of this Budget. Clearly, increasing housebuilding is a key priority for the government, but inevitably – and particularly in the current climate – there are clearly big differences of opinion in the cabinet over how this is actually to be achieved.

 “If the rumours are to be believed, a relaxation of the Green Belt system may be on the cards. Many have called for the emotion to be taken out of the Green Belt debate – as we know, much of it isn’t rolling countryside or even green – and, while many in his party aren’t likely to be supportive of any significant reform, the Chancellor may choose to play the role of devil’s advocate. This could include certain reclassifications which protect parts of the Green Belt which are worthy of protection, whilst making it less challenging to develop those sites which offer less; these ideas have, of course, been mooted in the past and would be welcomed by many (but inevitably opposed by others).

“However, beyond major high-level initiatives and announcements, the government also needs to find a way of working more closely with Local Authorities to encourage building, particular when it comes to alternative housing products – not least including PRS.”