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Chancellor pledges to boost home ownership

In today's budget, the chancellor, Philip Hammond, committed to boost home ownership.

First time buyers will be exempt from stamp duty on properties worth up to £300,000. The first £300,000 of purchases of up to £500,000 will also be free from duty (for first time buyers).

Planning reforms will be introduced to ensure that more land is available for housing, and maximise the potential in cities and towns, whilst protecting the Green Belt.

Additional funding is to be dedicated to affordable housing, with the total budget for the Affordable Homes Programme increasing from £7.1 billion to £9.1 billion to 2020-2021. It is anticipated that this will provide at least 25,000 new affordable homes. £400 million of loan funding will be provided for estate regeneration to transform run-down neighbourhoods and provide new homes in high-demand areas.

The chancellor announced that we can expect to see consultations on a number of housing-related issues, including:

Increasing housing density in urban areas

It is suggested that minimum densities for housing development in city centres and around transport hubs should be introduced, with greater support for the use of compulsory purchase powers for site assembly. In addition, we may see policy changes to support the conversion of empty space above high street shops, and to make it easier to convert retail and employment land to housing.

The introduction of a permitted development right to allow commercial buildings to be demolished and replaced with homes is also on the horizon.

Building homes more quickly

The government wants to ensure that planning permissions are built out faster. It is suggested that there should be tougher consequences where planned homes are not being built, and that local authorities should be expected to bring forward 20% of their housing supply as small sites. The intention is that this will speed up the building of new homes and will also increase competition in the house building market. 

In addition, the government wants to take measures to ensure that development is not held back by delays in discharging planning conditions.

The government will set up a review panel, chaired by Sir Oliver Letwin, to explain the 'significant gap between housing completions and the amount of land allocated or permissioned'. An interim report will be available in time for the Spring Statement 2018.

Developer contributions

Earlier this year, we reported on the recommendations to reform the Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL).

The proposals set out in the budget do not follow the recommendations of the report. Instead, it is indicated that the government intends to retain the community infrastructure levy (CIL). It is proposed that the current restriction on pooling contributions under Section 106 Agreements be removed. The government also suggests speeding up the process of setting and revising CIL, to enable areas to implement CIL more quickly.  Other proposals include changing the indexation of CIL rates to house price inflation, rather than build costs to ensure that CIL rates keep pace with general housing price inflation.

The government proposes that there be an option to charge a Strategic Infrastructure Tariff (SIT) to pay for major pieces of infrastructure. Combined Authorities and planning joint committees with statutory plan-making functions will have the option of levying a SIT in future, in the same way that London Mayoral CIL is providing funding for Crossrail.

It is clear that the provision of housing is a priority for the government. A number of consultations will be released over the coming months, and we will monitor and report on these.

Contributor: Alexandra Holsgrove Jones

This publication is intended for general guidance and represents our understanding of the relevant law and practice as at November 2017. Specific advice should be sought for specific cases. For more information see our terms & conditions.

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