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RTPI Budget response and key items of interest to planners

20 March 2013

Trudi ElliottThe Chancellor has made a number of announcements on planning, infrastructure, housing, and fiscal measures in the Budget which will be of interest to planners.

Trudi Elliott, Chief Executive of the RTPI, said: "We asked for greater certainty on policy. The Government will be producing technical guidance on shale gas, taking forward the Taylor Review recommendations and aligning planning with other regulatory regimes. These are welcome steps in principle and we will be examining the proposals carefully to ensure that they result in a more effective planning system.

The Chancellor also indicated that areas will be asked put in pro-growth planning policies and delivery arrangements as part of Local Growth Deals and City Deals. We asked for greater freedoms and flexibilities for pro-growth councils, particularly in respect of fee setting and we hope that councils take the opportunity to push for this in their negotiations with Government.  We stress that strategic economic planning needs to be consistent with the joint strategic planning for housing to be carried out by local authorities.

We also encouraged the Chancellor to put the weight of the Treasury behind the Map for England initiative and for greater joined up government. We will continue to press Government on these points.

Whilst we welcome increased infrastructure spending in the medium-term, we are disappointed that there is no new funding for infrastructure now."

Government announcements

Planning

Government will produce technical planning guidance on shale gas by July 2013 to provide clarity around planning for shale gas during the important exploration phase for the industry. As the shale gas industry develops the Government will ensure an effective planning system is in place and by the end of the year will produce guidance for the industry to ensure the planning system is properly aligned with the licensing regime and regulatory regimes principally: health and safety; and environmental protection. The Government will keep under review whether the largest shale gas projects should have the option to apply to the major infrastructure regime.

Government will:

  • publish significantly reduced planning guidance for England by this summer, in line with Lord Matthew Taylor's recommendations, providing much needed simplicity and clarity.
  • make greater use of information on prices to ensure that sufficient land is allocated to meet housing and employment need;
  • develop proposals by summer 2013 to ensure that local communities will benefit from shale gas projects in their area;
  • ask local areas in England to put in place bespoke pro-growth planning policies and delivery arrangements, as part of new Local Growth Deals, pursued in response to Lord Heseltine's review, and through City Deals;
  • consult on allowing further flexibilities between use classes to support change of use from certain agricultural and retail uses to residential use to increase responsiveness within the English planning system.

In addition, DCLG is progressing a public sector land auctions model and will work with HM Treasury to conduct a feasibility study into wider use of the model.

The Government will also develop further measures to streamline the process for planning judicial reviewsin England by summer 2013.

The Government will  consult on proposals to relax rules governing changes of use from retail to residential purposes in England.

Infrastructure planning and delivery

The Government will implement a series of reforms to effect a step change in its approach to infrastructure delivery. These reforms include creating an enhanced central cadre of commercial infrastructure specialists in IUK who will be deployed into infrastructure projects across government, and the establishment by the summer of tough new Infrastructure Capacity Plans to drive forward progress in key government departments.

The Government is committed to ensuring that investors have the confidence to make long-term decisions on major infrastructure projects, based on a policy framework that is informed by an objective and evidence-based assessment of the UK's infrastructure needs and priorities. The Government will therefore consider options for making more use of independent expertise in shaping its infrastructure strategy.

Housing

From 1 April 2013, "Help to Buy" is availble. This is a package of measures that will seek to increase the supply of low-deposit mortgages for credit-worthy households and will seek to increase the supply of new housing and contribute to economic growth.

The two main elements are "Help to Buy: equity loan" and "Help to Buy: mortgage guarantee".

Help to Buy: equity loan will be open for the next three years, providing £3.5 billion of investment in England, supporting up to 74,000 more home buyers as well as providing a boost to the construction sector.

Help to Buy: mortgage guarantee will, subject to the final design, make available up to £12 billion of government guarantees, sufficient to support £130 billion of high loan-to-value mortgages.

  • Click here for the Budget Statement.
  • Click here for the Budget Book (pdf, 3.16MB), which contains the detailed annoucements.
  • Click here for the DCLG page on the Budget.