Plymouth City Council welcomes Housing White Paper

Plymouth City Council welcomes the long-awaited Housing White Paper that was published this week.

The White Paper demonstrates that the Government has been listening to what local authorities have been saying for some time now, about how we can accelerate housing delivery and provide more affordable homes that meet people’s needs.

Councillor Patrick Nicholson, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Strategic Housing, Transport, and Planning for Plymouth City Council, said: “We welcome much of what is in the Housing White Paper published today, and it is particularly gratifying that Plymouth is identified as a good practice case study. Many of the Government proposals to support local plans speeding up housing delivery, diversify the housing market ,and taking steps to help local people are already reflected in our award winning Plan for Homes.  For example, we are making the difficult decisions on where new housing should be built in our Joint Local Plan which will be published at the end of this month.  We have already introduced speedier planning decisions, support for custom and self-build, and two year planning consents so that developers get on with it and build the homes Plymouth needs.”

Councillor Nicholson added: “We are already taking action on empty homes with  £1 Million of investment, we have been working with landowners to help unblock stalled housing sites, and we are taking direct action by not only releasing under-used public land but we are also proactively acquiring sites so that we can control the quality and speed of new homes.”

“Whilst there are a number of measures in the White Paper we welcome and support, I have to say that I am disappointed that there are not tougher measures and powers being given to local authorities to really hold developers to account so that they deliver the homes we all agree are needed”.

Key points welcomed by Plymouth City Council:

  • Recognition of the importance of local plans in meeting future housing need.
  • Clarifying who owns land and the options held on it.
  • Maximising brownfield development.
  • Giving local people a stronger say in housing design.
  • Higher densities provided this is done in the right location and delivers quality homes.
  • Direct support for the necessary resources for local government to deliver more homes.
  • The commitment to coordinate across Government adequate infrastructure required to support new housing development.
  • Encouraging young people into the development industry.
  • The backing being given through the Home Building Fund to encourage smaller builders to develop – and we commit to re-launching our successful Small Sites Initiative in partnership with local builders.
  • Further support for custom and self-build, and new methods of construction.
  • Build to Rent products, including the new affordable private rented tenure, that can help increase the quality of rented accommodation in the city and which will improve the quality and management of these homes.
  • A more responsive and flexible approach to starter homes that can include other tenures such as rent to buy and private affordable rented accommodation.
  • The opening up of the Affordable Housing Programme to fund much-need affordable rented houses.

Areas of concern:

  • The proposal to review yet again the national space standards which could allow sub-standard new homes.
  • The watering down of environmental protections and licensing.
  • The focus of new powers and funding towards high demand areas, when places like Plymouth have ambitious housing programmes and innovative ideas for delivery.
  • That there is no new powers, or new monies, and no support for innovative local approaches such as those that we have pursued under our Plan for Empty Homes.
  • Lack of reference to the higher costs associated with delivering estate regeneration.