The Prime Minister will pile pressure on councils to approve vital home-building schemes by vowing to change planning rules in favour of new developments.
But she is also set to urge developers to deliver new homes with the prospect of new ‘use it or lose it’ contracts where planning permissions could lapse if builders sit on their hands.
Ministers have already announced plans to make it easier for people to extend their homes upwards by adding up to two storeys.
But Mrs May will go further and set out plans to change the National Planning Policy Framework to give councils more freedom but also more tools to encourage housebuilding.
Housing Minister Dominic Raab told The Mail on Sunday that the Tories were ‘restless to revive the Conservative dream of home ownership for those who today find it beyond their reach’.
Mr Raab said: ‘There can be no fudging it. Councils must get those houses built, as a minimum.’ But he sought to ease residents’ fears about new developments by saying the Government would provide ‘targeted funding’ for the necessary extra roads, schools and utilities.
He said developers must deliver, saying: ‘Planning permissions should be viewed more as contracts for delivery, not the start of a haggling process that exhausts local authorities and frustrates communities
Tomorrow, the government will publish proposals for planning reform, to hit the next gear in our drive to build the homes Britain needs, and make them more affordable for aspirational working Britons.
Home ownership in this country declined between 2003 and 2013. It has stabilised since, but we are restless to revive the Conservative dream of home ownership for those people who, today, find it beyond their reach.
We’re talking about the teachers, nurses and firemen delivering vital services in expensive neighbourhoods, who can’t afford to live in the very communities they serve. Or the working couple putting in over-time, saving to settle down and start a family, but who can’t build up a deposit because house prices are just too high. Last year, we saw 217,000 new homes delivered – 50% higher than when Labour left office. But, we need to do much more, if we’re going to build enough homes – at the prices more people can afford.
So, we’re changing the National Planning Policy Framework, which sets the rules councils apply to local home-building. We’re giving local councils greater freedom, and more tools, to build the homes their communities need. And if we’re going to build the homes we need – whilst protecting our precious Greenbelt – we’ll need to be more creative. Using the air space above existing buildings could unlock thousands of new homes. So, we’re making it easier to build upwards on existing blocks of flats and houses, as well as shops and offices. For example, an additional two levels could be added to a property, provided it is in keeping with the roofline of other buildings in the street or square. In practice, we will see more mews houses and terraced streets, rather than tower blocks.
In return, councils will have clearer expectations of the number of homes they must build for their communities. There can be no fudging it. Councils must get those homes built, as a minimum. If anything, we want them to go further. But, it’s not a one-way street. We’re investing billions of pounds to support ambitious local authorities. We recognise the challenges they face. Residents worry about new developments. Will it mean struggling to get an appointment at their local doctors’ surgery, or more congestion on the roads? So, ensuring that that new homes don’t add to existing pressure on services or quality of life is essential. Our targeted funding will provide the roads, utilities, schools and clinics so that, as we build more homes, we build up stronger communities too.
Developers play a key role in all of this. They are the ones who get the homes built, and technology is driving modern methods of construction, making it easier to build high quality homes at scale. Equally, we want to make sure that, when developers secure planning permissions, they build the homes and fund the infrastructure they said they would. Planning permissions should be viewed more as contracts for delivery, not the start of a haggling process that exhausts local authorities, and frustrates their communities. Sir Oliver Letwin’s review will report on this later in the year.
In the next two weeks designate two new town development corporations in the Oxford-MK-Cambridge Corridor.
For generations 1-2 New Towns the development corporation was designated, the border defined and then a masterplan drawn up within it. The problem was it led to places like Skelmersdale, where the masterplan was warped to fit within the boundary.
For the thrird gen New Towns starting with Northampton the development corporation was formed and then drew up a masterplan. The boundary being defined after the masterplan set the area. There is nothing in the New Towns Act as I can see to prevent that.
Up to five new garden towns are to be approved for the corridor between Oxford and Cambridge under government plans to launch a “housing revolution” this week.
In an interview with The Sunday Times, Sajid Javid, the housing secretary, said he would give the go-ahead to at least two new towns in the next few weeks and could push for up to three more. The decision comes after ministers agreed to fund a high-speed rail line and an “expressway” for cars between the two leading university towns.
“Along that corridor there’s an opportunity to build at least four or five garden towns and villages with thousands of homes,” Javid said. The first step will be to establish “new town development corporations” for the chosen sites, which will help developers and town planners to “cut through a lot of the bureaucracy”, he said.
Referring to the creation of Milton Keynes in 1967 and the transformation of London’s Docklands in the 1980s, Javid said: “We haven’t been that ambitious for a long time.”He said: “We have a housing crisis in this country. Average house prices in England are eight times average earnings. In London, where we have the most acute shortage, it is 15 times average earnings. That’s not just the worst we have had in England , it’s the worst of any major developed economy.”
Last year 217,000 homes were built, more than double the total in 2010, but well under the 300,000 a year the government is aiming for by 2025.
This week ministers will change the planning rules to try to kick-start house-building “where it is needed” and turn the heat up on “Nimby councils” who have refused to build what is needed.
Tomorrow Javid will unveil a new version of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF), to get councils to give more land for development. “You’ve got to release it where people are demanding more homes,” he said.
The NPPF will contain new national rules determining how many homes councils should be building each year — taking account of local house prices and wages and the number of key workers in the area. Javid is clear that will force many councils to set higher targets.
“It will no longer allow Nimby councils that don’t really want to build the homes that their local community needs to fudge the numbers,” Javid said. “For the first time it will explicitly take into account the market prices. If you are in an area where the unaffordability ratio is much higher you will have to build even more. It will make clear to councils that this number is a minimum, not a maximum.”
Javid will also launch a crackdown on councils who do not meet targets. He said: “The other thing we’ll introduce is the delivery test. If they say we’re going to plan for 300 a year at the moment there is nothing in the system that checks to see they are actually delivering the 300 and that is going to change.”
Councils who fail to step up will be stripped of their right to decide what gets built in their areas, with decisions made by independent planning inspectors instead. “Developers can only apply for planning permission in the areas the council has identified,” he said. “If the protection of that plan is switched off, a developer can apply for planning permission anywhere in your area.
“This is quite a big sanction for every local authority to not just come up with the right number, but once that number is in place, we are going to be breathing down your neck to make sure you are actually delivering on those numbers.”
Javid says that does not mean building on the green belt, “but it does mean that outside of naturally protected land like woodland and green belt they can pretty much roam everywhere outside that”.
The housing secretary has shown he is prepared to intervene after he threatened 15 councils who had failed to draw up any local plan for development.
“The last time York had a plan was 1954,” he said. “There was the chancellor’s district council, Runnymede. They responded positively. It doesn’t matter who you are or who your MP is, if you haven’t got a plan you will be hearing from me. If a council keeps ignoring its responsibility we can take that planning responsibility away from them and give it to someone else.”
The new planning framework will also seek to make local plans more responsive to their populations’ needs. Javid said: “Our nurses, police officers and fire officers want to live as close as possible to where they serve the British public. We want to make it easier it build and take their needs into account.”
In cities he is keen to see more building upwards. New rules will make it easier for homeowners to add two storeys to their houses — and will clear the way for a large number of mansion blocks to be built.
“The density of London is less than half that of Paris. We don’t want London to end up like Hong Kong,” Javid said, but he wants more “mansion blocks, the kind you might see in Kensington and Chelsea”. He said: “It will be quite surprising how easy we want to make it for people who want to build upwards.”
Further proposals to force developers to build more quickly will be revealed next week when the former cabinet minister Oliver Letwin publishes the interim findings of his report into the problem of land banking by developers.
“We need planning permission to turn into homes,” Javid said. “I don’t think Oliver is going to hold back.”
Javid is aware that failure to deliver could cost the Tories the next election. “We need a housing revolution. We have to show the British public that we are doing everything we reasonably can because if we don’t they will turn to the hard-left ideas of [Jeremy] Corbyn. If that means taking on councils, developers and others that’s what we’re going to do.”
Where? Bassingbourne and Calvert are the top cotenders – followed by Marston Vale, Grove and Sandy-Biggleswade-Henlow. As we have long argued on this site and in reports to the NIC.
“Nimby” councils that don’t build enough homes will be stripped of the right to decide where new houses are placed in their area under plans to be launched by Theresa May on Monday.
Housing secretary Sajid Javid warned local authorities he would be “breathing down our neck every day and night” to ensure home-building targets were met.”
An overhaul of planning laws will give councils targets for how many homes they should build each year, taking into account local house prices, wages and the number of key workers such as nurses, teachers and police officers in the area. Higher targets will be set for areas with higher “unaffordability ratios”, Javid told the Sunday Times.
If councils fail to deliver on the target they will be stripped of planning powers, and independent inspectors will take over.
The prime minister has made housing a key domestic priority as more young people struggle to get on the property ladder.
Javid told the newspaper: “We have a housing crisis in this country. We need a housing revolution. The new rules will no longer allow ‘nimby’ councils that don’t really want to build the homes that their local community needs to fudge the numbers.
“We are going to be breathing down your neck day and night to make sure you are actually delivering on those numbers.”
The housing secretary added: “At the moment there is nothing in the system that checks to see they are actually delivering. There’s no comeback or sanction and that is going to change.”
Javid said homes would not be built on green belt but any area outside “naturally protected land” would be free for construction.
He also revealed plans to build new towns between Oxford and Cambridge. “Along that corridor there’s an opportunity to build at least four or five garden towns and villages with thousands of homes,” he said.
And he said rules would be relaxed for homeowners who wanted to add storeys to their houses. He said he didn’t want “London to end up like Hong Kong’ but called for more “mansion blocks, the kind you might see in Kensington and Chelsea”. “It will be quite surprising how easy we want to make it for people who want to build upwards,” Javid said.
In response, John Healey, Labour’s shadow secretary of state for Housing, said: “This year-old policy shows again that ministers have no proper plan to fix the housing crisis. Eight years of failure on housing is the fault of Whitehall, not town halls.
“Since 2010, home ownership has fallen to a 30-year low, rough sleeping has more than doubled, and the number of new homes being built still hasn’t recovered to pre-recession levels.
“In the week he’s surrendered £800m of unspent housing funds to the Treasury, more buck-passing from Sajid Javid isn’t going to cut it. It’s time the Tories changed course, and backed Labour’s long-term plan to build the homes the country needs.”