Housebuilding is a key part of the government’s long-term economic plan – and is at the heart of 3 bills that have received Royal Assent.
A new Urban Development Corporation will help deliver the first Garden City for 100 years at Ebbsfleet, with up to 15,000 new homes.
Overlapping and unnecessary building standards, that increase the cost of construction for housebuilders, are scrapped making it easier and less expensive to build.
There will be new support from councils for aspiring self and custom builders in their area to find suitable plots of land to get their projects off the drawing board.
There will also be help for aspiring homeowners and tenants in the private rented sector, with more people qualifying for the Right to Buy, measures to prevent so-called retaliatory evictions and requirements on letting agents to publish full details of the fees they charge to tenants.
And homeowners in London looking to rent out their homes on a short-term basis will now be able to do so without seeking planning permission from their council – putting the capital’s rules in line with those already in place for the rest of the country.
Housing Minister Brandon Lewis said:
We’re working across all parts of the housing industry to get the country building again and it’s working, with housebuilding levels at their highest since 2007 and planning permission granted on 253,000 homes in the last year alone.
Today’s measures maintain the momentum, cutting red tape to get homes built, providing help for those who want to buy and support for people renting in the private sector.
Communities Minister Stephen Williams said:
Under the old system of housing standards, builders faced a confusing and contradictory mass of measures.
From today, the coalition government is introducing a simple, easy to understand set of requirements. These will help housebuilders and councils to work together to build more of the high quality and sustainable homes for people right across the country.
Bills receive Royal Assent
These measures come into force thanks to 3 Bills that today received Royal Assent. They are:
The Deregulation Act
This includes, on housing and tenancies:
paving the way for the creation of a Development Corporation for Ebbsfleet – the Ebbsfleet Development Corporation is due to come into existence on 20 April 2015, with planning powers transferred to it on 1 July. It will oversee the development of the new Garden City in the area
an end to retaliatory evictions – tenants in the private rented sector will be protected from being evicted by their landlord simply because they have raised a legitimate complaint about the condition of the property
short-term lets in London – people in London looking to rent out their homes on a short-term basis will now be able to do so without seeking planning permission from their council – giving the capital’s residents the same rights enjoyed in the rest of the country
extending the Right to Buy – council tenants will now qualify for the Right to Buy once they have lived in their properties for 3 years or more, changed from 5 years previously
optional building requirements – dozens of overlapping and complex housebuilding standards have been cut down to a simple, streamlined system. Fundamental rules on building safety remain, but this new system will save around £100 million a year for both councils and developers
tenancy deposit protection – where landlords took a deposit before the introduction of the tenancy deposit protection legislation in 2007 for a tenancy which rolled over after the end of the initial tenancy, and is still in existence, they have in most cases until 23 June to protect their tenant’s deposit or potentially face a fine
And on local government:
powers for ministers to restrict the use of CCTV to enforce on-street parking – this will end the overuse of CCTV by some councils, and help support high streets and local shops.
changing the law to scrap unfair and arbitrary bin fines – people will no longer be able to be fined for accidentally putting their rubbish out early or putting the wrong bit of waste in the wrong bin
scrapping some outdated, bureaucratic statutory duties placed on councils – including ‘sustainable community strategies’ and ‘local and multi area agreements’
Consumer Rights Act
Among other measures, this new Act requires letting agents to publish full details of the fees they charge to tenants, so that anyone looking to rent in the private sector knows what they can expect to pay.
This is on top of a requirement on letting agents to belong to 1 of 3 redress schemes, so tenants and landlords have somewhere to go if they have a complaint.
The Self-Build and Custom Housebuilding Act
A private member’s bill brought by Conservative MP Richard Bacon with backing from the government. This Act brings forward the first part of the Right to Build, by requiring councils to establish local registers of people looking to buy plots of land to commission or build their own home.
The Act also requires councils to take account of the demand for self and custom build when exercising their planning housing, regeneration and land disposal functions.
The Local Government (Religious Observances) Act
The Act puts beyond doubt the fact that all councils, including parishes, can choose to hold prayers at the start of the sessions, maintaining the longstanding British tradition.
The government-backed legislation was taken through Parliament by Jake Berry MP and Lord Patrick Cormack following legal challenges against some councils that conduct prayers.
Local Government (Review of Decisions) Act
This will protect the public from the over-zealous application of health and safety rules and ensure a right of appeal if a council refuses permission for an event to go ahead on health and safety grounds.
Ebbsfleet Development Corporation
Robin Cooper, currently deputy chief executive at Medway council, is to be appointed as chief executive and ex officio board member of the Ebbsfleet Development Corporation, alongside Michael Cassidy as chairman.
Three council leaders from the Ebbsfleet area have also been nominated to serve on the corporation’s board.
Councillor Paul Carter CBE, leader of Kent county council
Councillor Jeremy Kite MBE, leader of Dartford borough council
Councillor John Burden, leader of Gravesham borough council
This is in addition to 5 other board members that were announced at Budget. See details on the website.
New zero carbon housing standard
From 2016 all homes will be zero carbon, through a mixture of raised building standards and ‘allowable solutions’ such as offsite energy sources and contributions to clean energy schemes.
Today the government has published its response to consultation proposals to exempt sites of fewer than 10 homes from the allowable solutions requirements, with safeguards against abuses; and an impact assessment on allowable solutions.
Custom and self build
The government has also today published the government’s response to its recent consultation on the Right to Build which this Act will help to take forward.