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What Did The Autumn Budget Mean For UK House Building?

05th December 2023


The Governments autumn statement on 22nd November 2023 unveiled significant reforms to the UK planning system. These reforms signal a pivotal shift in the approach to property development, with a focus on streamlining processes, increasing housing supply, and addressing the ever-growing demand for affordable homes. In this article, we address the key changes and what they could mean for the future of housebuilding.

Streamlining the Planning Process:

One of the key highlights of the planning system reforms was the emphasis on streamlining the planning process. Jeremy Hunt has expressed a commitment to reducing red tape and bureaucratic hurdles that often slow down development projects. The aim is to make the planning system more efficient, allowing developers to navigate through the process more swiftly.

His reforms will allow local authorities to recover the full costs of major business planning applications, in return for being required to meet guaranteed faster timelines. In turn, if they fail, he pledged that fees would be refunded automatically, with the application being processed free of charge. Additionally, he promised to invest over £32m to “bust the planning backlog” and develop new housing in city hubs such as Cambridge, London and Leeds.

By simplifying planning applications and minimising delays, developers can expect a more straightforward journey from project conception to completion. This streamlining is anticipated to foster a more dynamic and responsive environment for the property development sector.

Accelerating Affordable Housing Delivery:

Addressing the housing crisis and increasing the supply of affordable homes was a central theme in the planning system reforms. Jeremy Hunt’s statement includes measures to expedite the delivery of affordable housing, recognising the urgent need for accessible and reasonably priced homes across the UK.

In a bid to unlock more than 40,000 new homes, the Chancellor promised to invest over £110m next year to deliver high-quality nutrient mitigation schemes.

The reforms incentivise developers to allocate a certain percentage of their projects to affordable housing, promoting inclusivity and addressing the widening gap between demand and supply. By creating a more supportive framework for affordable housing development, the reforms aim to make homeownership a reality for a broader spectrum of the population.

Local Authority Empowerment:

The autumn statement also emphasised empowering local authorities to take a more active role in planning. By giving local councils greater control over development policies and decisions, the reforms seek to create a system more reflective of the unique needs and priorities of individual communities.

As part of the new measures, the Government allocated £450m to the Local Authority Housing Fund to deliver approximately 2,400 new homes.

Local authorities are expected to play a key role in shaping the future of housebuilding within their jurisdictions. This shift towards local empowerment aligns with the government’s commitment to decentralisation and community-driven development, fostering a more localised and responsive approach to planning.

Environmental Sustainability and Green Initiatives:

In line with broader trends in sustainable development, Jeremy Hunt’s reforms also incorporate a focus on environmental considerations. The planning system changes aim to promote green initiatives, sustainable building practices, and environmentally friendly design principles.

Developers will likely face increased scrutiny regarding the environmental impact of their projects. This includes considerations such as energy efficiency, carbon footprint, and the integration of green spaces. As the world grapples with the challenges of climate change, these reforms underscore the importance of responsible and sustainable development practices in the UK.

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