The Government published its landmark Housing and Planning bill on Tuesday when the 119-page legislation had its introduction in the House of Commons without debate.

Among the provisions in this wide-ranging bill is the statutory framework for the Government’s ‘Starter Homes’ scheme which includes a new legal duty to be placed on councils to guarantee the provision of 200,000 starter homes on all reasonably sized new development sites. These will be offered to first-time buyers at a 20 per cent discount on market price.

Another key measure provides ministers with powers to intervene to ensure that all councils have local plans in place by 2017.

In addition, the legislation introduces the requirement for local authorities to keep registers of brownfield land, an extension of the right-to-buy discount to some housing association tenants and a duty on local authorities to sell their most expensive vacant homes.

The bill also provides for automatic planning permission in principle on brownfield sites and introduces planning reforms to support small builders by placing a new duty on councils to help allocate land to people who want to build their own home.

Furthermore the legislation includes measures to simplify and speed-up neighbourhood planning, reform the Compulsory Purchase Order regime, extend the use of the planning performance regime to smaller planning applications and provide the Mayor of London with additional planning and housing powers.

Also stipulated is a new requirement that “prescribed financial benefits which might accrue to the local area as a result of granting planning permission” are recorded in reports by planning committees and the planning authority itself.

In a separate but related move the Government has announced that local authorities will be able to bid for a share of a £10m Starter Homes fund (part of a £36m package to accelerate the delivery of starter homes) by helping councils prepare brownfield sites that would otherwise not be built on for starter homes.

View more information on the Housing and Planning bill

Roger Milne

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