New planning rules for London to ‘speed up’ development

New planning rules for London to ‘speed up’ development

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has announced the introduction of new planning rules designed to ‘speed up development and boost affordable homes’.

At least half the new homes built on public land in London will have to be affordable to benefit from faster planning permission under a new approach to development set out in guidance published by the Mayor, Sadiq Khan.

The new Supplementary Planning Guidance (SPG) offers developers of private land a fast-track route through the planning process if they meet a strict minimum of 35% affordable housing without public funding. Developments on public land will have to achieve at least 50% affordable housing to qualify for the fast-track route.

The fast track route will allow housebuilders to bypass often costly and protracted viability negotiations that have become the norm for applications in London.

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “The housing crisis is the biggest challenge facing Londoners today with too many people – particularly the younger generation – being priced out of our city, unable to afford a home.

“I’ve been honest with Londoners from the start – we can’t turn things round overnight. But we’re working hard to tackle the issue every day and we’ve already agreed to put £1.7bn of the investment that I secured from Government into 50,000 new and genuinely affordable homes to rent and buy. This investment will work hand-in-hand with the new approach for developers that I’m introducing today, which will allow them to benefit from a fast track through the planning system if they offer more affordable housing and get building quickly.”

The guidance indicates that all developments should get underway within two years of planning permission being granted, or else they face detailed scrutiny of the financial modelling behind their plans. Any developments that do not meet the minimum affordable thresholds, it says, will also face further scrutiny as they near completion – with financial details in the application being published online for the public to see, and a share of any unexpected profits being re-invested in more affordable housing.

Jasmine Whitbread, chief executive of London First, the business group behind the Fifty Thousand Homes campaign, said: “The shortage of homes at all levels is a critical issue for London and the Mayor is right to focus on public land and making the planning process faster. The Mayor, local boroughs and developers must now work together to understand why so many planning permissions fall by the wayside – almost one in three in 2016 – and start to unblock the hold-up. Otherwise, we risk shutting the door on our housebuilding ambition.”

The National Federation of Builders (NFB) has welcomed Mayor Khan’s focus on the planning process but is disappointed that his focus seems to be limited to speeding up the planning process for large developers. The NFB believes there is an opportunity to fix planning for locally employing SMEs who do have a track record of delivering affordable housing quickly. Rico Wojtulewicz, policy advisor for the House Builders Association, said: “This SPG focusses on developers who fall short of affordable expectations, rather than enabling those who typically meet them. If the Mayor has any real ambition to tackle the affordable housing crisis in our capital then supply must be diversified. This cannot be achieved by simply tackling the burden of viability negotiations and the planning process in its entirety must be fixed.”

A link to the Mayor’s Supplementary Planning Guidance can be found here:

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