Levelling up – by tackling housing issues

‘Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill’ to be in the Queen’s Speech

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The Government’s Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill is bringing in several measures to tackle long-standing housing issues – as covered by today’s Devon Live:

Second and empty homes face doubling of council tax under new rules

The Government will be giving local authorities the power to double council tax on second homes in plans due to be announced in next week’s Queen’s Speech. The new council tax rules for second and empty homes will be introduced as part of the UK Government’s commitment to invest in local communities and drive levelling up across the country.

In Devon alone, figures presented to Devon County Council’s cabinet earlier this month showed that there were more than 11,000 homes classed as second homes. It also revealed that in October, there were 640 homes in Devon that were being charged the Empty Homes Premium as they had been empty for more than two years – 46 of them in the South Hams and 33 in West Devon.

Under the new rules, English local authorities will gain ‘discretionary powers’ to levy a premium of up to 100 per cent on council tax bills for second homes that are furnished but not occupied as a sole or main residence. As well as supporting and improving services, this extra funding could be used to help ensure council tax is kept low for local residents…

Second and empty homes face doubling of council tax under new rules – Devon Live

New law change will mean residents will get to vote on plans for new houses on their street

Residents could soon get to vote on plans for new houses in their street, as part of a new law change which is due to be announced in the Queen’s speech next week. It comes as Boris Johnson hopes to get hundreds of thousands more families on the housing ladder before the next election, The Sun reports.

Under the plan, neighbours could get together to decide what should be built on their road. Any development would have to be in keeping with the local area, and a two-thirds majority of residents backing the plan would be needed before construction can go ahead.

There would also be rules in place that restrict people building on greenfield sites, as well as limits of how many new homes can be built in an area so the new buildings do not overcrowd neighbouring streets. A large chunk of the money generated will go towards boosting local services, such as GP surgeries, rather than straight into the pockets of developers…

New law change will mean residents will get to vote on plans for new houses on their street – Devon Live

These issues have been around for some time of course – and the government has promised to deal with them:

Distorting the housing market: tax loopholes & business grants – Vision Group for Sidmouth

Giving residents the right to vote for more housing – Vision Group for Sidmouth

There are other aspects covered by the Bill, however.

The government is certainly aware of voter frustration around lack of housing:  

Housing crisis cost us votes, says Michael Gove 

Mr Gove outlined plans designed to increase the supply of homes, which are due to form part of the Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill, one of the flagship pieces of legislation expected to be announced in next week’s Queen’s Speech. He said that measures will include powers for residents to decide on local “design codes”, in a bid to reduce resistance to new homes…

Housing crisis cost us votes, says Michael Gove

Anger over lack of affordable homes drove voters to punish Conservatives says Michael Gove

The government has promised to help tenants facing eviction:

Queen’s Speech to include long-awaited protections for tenants

New measures to protect vulnerable tenants in rental housing in England and Wales that were promised in the Conservative’s 2019 manifesto are expected to appear in the Queen’s Speech on Tuesday. The 2019 manifesto committed the government to a “renters’ reform bill” that would abolish section 21 orders, which enable landlords to throw out their tenants with eight-weeks’ notice without explaining why. Scrapping the so-called “no fault” evictions has been a target for housing charities, such as Generation Rent and Shelter, which claim they leave renters in a precarious position since a government ban on evictions put in place during the coronavirus pandemic was lifted…

Queen’s Speech to include long-awaited protections for tenants | Financial Times

And the government is looking to replace the current housing developer contributions – which has excited a lot of industry comment: 

Michael Gove plans to scrap rules that force developers to build affordable homes 

Housing Secretary Michael Gove has triggered a storm with plans to scrap rules that force developers to build affordable homes. Section 106 regulations ensure that modestly priced properties and community projects are included in large building programmes.

But proposals to be outlined in the Queen’s Speech are set to cut the number affordable homes by 50,000 over 10 years. Mr Gove is planning to replace the scheme with a building levy which would be paid to local authorities. This could allow them to build more social housing. However, critics fear hard-up councils may spend the money on other schemes, such as roads.

Michael Gove plans to scrap rules that force developers to build affordable homes – Mirror Online

Proposals to ‘scrap s106 developer contributions’ and new flat-rate ‘Consolidated Infrastructure Levy’ | S106 Management

Opinion: What a new development tax could mean for delivery of infrastructure and affordable homes | Placemaking Resource

Next month’s Queen’s Speech will include replacement of section 106 developer contributions with flat-rate levy, say reports | Planning Resource (paywall)

Finally, here are the government proposals:

Levelling Up the United Kingdom – GOV.UK

   
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