Autumn Budget 2017 – what does this mean for planning?
Earlier today the Chancellor of the Exchequer revealed the Government's Autumn Budget. The fact that housing featured so heavily in the budget is a clear sign that the Government recognises the need to take urgent action in order to tackle the country's housing crisis.
The Chancellor announced £44 billion would be made available to support the housing market over the next five years, pledging that we would see on average 300,000 homes built every year until the mid-2020s. The Chancellor further committed to one million homes on the Cambridge – Milton Keynes- Oxford corridor; providing a real opportunity for stakeholders to get involved in these areas.
Mr Hammond also introduced two other key measures worth noting:
- The Chancellor announced the Government's intention to legislate for councils to be able to impose a 100% council tax premium on properties that are left vacant. Councils are currently only able to charge 50% of council tax on empty homes and thus the Government would hope this tax increase will incentivise home occupation; and
- Oliver Letwin is to chair a review to examine how land is being used for housing and look into 'land banking'. Remedies are likely to include greater compulsory purchase powers.
The Chancellor acknowledged that "there's no single magic bullet" to solve the housing crisis, stating that it would take money, planning reform and intervention. He also confirmed the Government's stance of continuing to protect Green Belt land and to concentrate on the construction of "high density homes" within city centres and transport hubs. Communities Secretary, Sajid Javid, is expected to make a separate statement to provide more clarification on the Government's plans.
It remains to be seen what the impact of these new reforms will be although it is already clear that the opposition is not impressed. In Jeremy Corbyn's response to the Budget he condemns the proposals as "accounting tricks and empty promises" and advocates instead "a large scale publicly funded house building programme".