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Commenting on today’s publication of the Housing White Paper ‘Fixing the broken Housing Market’, Cllr Neil Clarke, chairman of the District Councils’ Network (DCN) said: “At last week’s DCN National Conference, Communities and Local Government Secretary, Sajid Javid, said districts would be at the heart of the White Paper and to realising the Government’s housebuilding ambitions.
“Districts are – and will continue to be – at the forefront of delivering the country’s housing needs since they already accommodate one-in-two new homes built nationwide. In this spirit we welcome a greater emphasis on flexibility around type and tenure, including a renewed focus on affordable homes and homes to rent, in the White Paper – to help our members build the homes this country needs.
“However, district councils will also require greater fiscal freedoms to fully unlock their ability to build more homes, including the removal of the HRA borrowing cap, the use of Right to Buy receipts and other borrowing freedoms, and we will continue to make our case to Government in our response to the White Paper.
“The DCN is also pleased to see the White Paper will take on board some of our long-standing recommendations for speeding up house-building by giving councils powers to make developers build out within two years of granting planning permission. This will address our concerns relating to the gap between the number of planning permissions granted by district councils and the number of new homes completed.
“We also welcome proposals to increase planning fees by 20% from July 2017, with the prospect of a further 20% increase to councils who are delivering new homes for their communities. For too long council planning departments have been under-resourced to deliver local planning, and the DCN has lobbied tirelessly over many years for fuller cost recovery.
“In responding to the White Paper, the DCN will now examine the detail, including plans for a Housing Delivery Test and new proposals around a standardised way of calculating housing demand, with care and consideration – with a view to ensuring the housing revolution is built on strong foundations and is locally driven.
“For us, this means a planning system aligned with the broader devolution agenda, one that supports cross-boundary planning across functional economic and strategic housing market areas, incentivises local plan-making and firmly links local growth with strategic infrastructure.”