16th March 2020


UPDATE (18 March 2020) – Given recent government announcements on its response to the Covid-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic, it is likely that a number of the plans announced last week will be delayed, if not revised.



Housing numbers

The government has reiterated its commitment to creating at least one million new homes in England by the end of this parliamentary term, and an average of 300,000 homes a year by the mid-2020s. It will review the current formula for calculating local housing need to ensure these overall targets are delivered, raising the Housing Delivery test threshold to 75% in November 2020 and incentivising local authorities to deliver on their local plans.

Affordable Homes Programme (AHP)

An additional £9.5 billion has been allocated to the programme, bringing the total grant funding for the provision of affordable homes across England from 2021-22 to £12.2 billion. This is expected to attract a further £38 billion in public and private investment. A new national Shared Ownership model is also being brought in, with the aim of making the programme more consumer friendly, fairer and accessible.

Renters' Reform Bill

Expected to provide greater stability for those who rent their homes.

Social Housing White Paper

With the aim of ensuring that residents in social homes are treated fairly, the government intends to publish a Social Housing White Paper.


A Brownfield Housing Fund of £400 million has been created to help bring more brownfield sites forward for development. Bidding is expected to open in the coming weeks. The government will also be launching a national brownfield map in April 2020 and plans to publish a call for proposals to build above stations. The idea is to make the most of existing transport hubs and encourage modern, green communities where people live close to public transport.

Housing infrastructure allocations

Allocations totalling £1.1 billion will be made from the Housing Infrastructure Fund for nine areas across the country, expected to deliver almost 70,000 homes and an additional £328 million in housing investment for specific areas.

Single Housing Infrastructure Fund

A new £10 billion fund has been announced. Details will follow alongside the government’s Spending Review.

Future Homes Standard (FHS)

To reduce carbon emissions and help keep household energy costs low, the government will improve the standards of new homes. From 2025, the FHS will require energy performance in new homes to achieve a 75-80% reduction in carbon emissions compared to the current Approved Document L1A 2013.

Building Safety Fund

In a bid to make people feel safer in their homes, an additional £1 billion has been allocated to remove unsafe cladding from residential buildings above 18 meters. A Building Safety Bill is also expected soon.

Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT)

The introduction of a 2% Stamp Duty Land Tax surcharge on non-UK residents purchasing residential property in England and Northern Ireland from 1 April 2021 aims to control house price inflation and support UK residents to get onto, and move up, the housing ladder. The money raised from the surcharge will be used to help address rough sleeping.

Rough sleeping

A government has put a number of plans in motion to address the issue of homelessness:

  • A review of rough sleeping in the UK, and a pledge to spend more than £640 million to end it.
  • First Homes scheme – the government is consulting on a new scheme to support first time buyers. Current plans include cutting the cost of many new homes by a third, with the discount locked into the property in perpetuity.
  • The introduction of the New Homes Ombudsman.

Housing Strategy

Many of the above initiatives will form part of the government’s housing strategy, to be published later in the year. It will set out our longer-term plans to deliver homes and address market challenges.



Planning White Paper

Recognising that the planning system has failed to keep pace with current needs, we are expecting an “ambitious” and modernising Planning White Paper in the spring. The plan is tipped to accelerate decisions and make it easier for communities to engage with / play a role where applications affect them. The government reiterated its intention to support beautiful design and meet the challenges of climate change, as well as build the homes this country needs.

We can expect the new system to:

  • Reform planning fees, including automatic rebates, where planning applications are successful at appeal.
  • Ensure land for housing is built out – through greater transparency on land options and the exploring of wider options to encourage planning permissions to be built out more quickly.
  • Expand the use of zoning tools like Local Development Orders.
  • Reform and encourage local authorities to use Compulsory Purchase Orders to facilitate land assembly and infrastructure delivery.

Building upwards

New permitted development rights to build up are expected by summer 2020. They will allow for the extension of residential blocks by up to two storeys. The government will also consult on vacant commercial buildings, industrial buildings and residential blocks being demolished and replaced by residential units.

Community and self-build housing

Details on how the government will support this will follow.

Local plans

The deadline for all local authorities to have an up-to-date local plan has been set at December 2023. Intervention will be considered on a case by case basis.

National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF)

Revisions are expected to embed the principles of good design and placemaking and address issues around building in areas at flood risk.

Building Better, Building Beautiful Commission report

The government will respond to the report, with a view to taking forward many of its recommendations, which include calling for urban tree planting (tree-lined streets are to be included in future plans) and giving communities a greater opportunity to influence design standards in their area.


Other than reviewing the NPPF, £5.2 billion has been allocated for the improvement of additional flood defences.



National Infrastructure Strategy (NIS)

The government intends to publish a landmark NIS in spring, which will set out plans for the transformation of the UK's economic infrastructure.

Oxford-Cambridge Arc

There are plans to develop a long-term spatial framework to support strategic planning for the Oxford-Cambridge arc.


The government will shortly publish the response to a consultation on connectivity, confirming its intention for legislation to ensure new homes are built with gigabit-capable broadband.

Second Road Investment Strategy (RIS2)

The government announced its largest ever investment package to boost regional connectivity through strategic roads. Over £27 billion will be spent between 2020 and 2025 to take forward schemes such as building a new high-quality dual carriageway, a two-mile tunnel in the South West to speed up journeys on the A303, and remove traffic around Stonehenge.

Intra-city transport settlements

The government is investing £4.2 billion in transport networks for certain city regions across England from 2022-23. Funding will be delivered through five-year consolidated transport settlements, agreed with central government and based on plans put forward by Mayors. This will include the West of England, subject to appropriate governance being in place.

Car travel

The government has set targets to increase the number of zero emission vehicles on the road. A consultation is now live to collect views on bringing the phase-out date for the sale of new petrol and diesel cars and vans forward (currently 2040). Grant funding for plug-in cars was also announced alongside £500 million to support the roll-out of a fast-charging network for electric vehicles over the next five years.

To discuss how the government’s new plans might affect you or your business, please get in touch with a member of the Planning team.


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