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Chancellor's Spring Statement: RTPI response

13 March 2019

The Chancellor presented his Spring Statement to Parliament today.

On housing and infrastructure

The Chancellor said the Government would publish the updated National Infrastructure Strategy alongside a three-year Spending Review. He also announced a new consultation on infrastructure funding models once the UK left the European Investment Bank. 

He announced a £3bn Affordable Homes Guarantee Scheme to deliver around 30,000 affordable homes, and a £717m housing infrastructure fund to unlock new homes in several locations.

He reported on progress in delivering growth in the Oxford-Cambridge Arc including £445 million from the Housing Infrastructure Fund to unlock over 22,000 homes, and a joint declaration with local partners affirming a shared vision for the Arc.

Ian Tant, President of the Royal Town Planning Institute, said:

“A serious, long term investment into infrastructure is overdue. We welcome the Chancellor’s ambition and scope in his forthcoming National Infrastructure Strategy and consultation on funding models. There are also some useful measures, such as the Affordable homes Guarantee Scheme and a new standard to end the use of fossil fuel heating systems in all new houses by 2025.

“But one thing is clear: we need to get delivery right.  Resourcing planning departments in local authorities effectively underpins the delivery of many of the country’s ambitions - whether it is the Oxford-Cambridge arc, delivery of more affordable housing, tackling climate change and reviving our public services. The state of finance in local authorities, especially local planning capacity, is a real worry and sadly, there is nothing in the statement today to alleviate that.

“Our concerns remain with permitted development rights. We urge the Government to consider the impact they would have on our ailing high streets if takeaways and other shops are allowed to become residential flats. No one would argue against the need for more affordable homes, or that high streets must adapt, but change must be part of a planned, local vision.”

On the environment

The Chancellor spoke of the importance of creative solutions and said sustainability must be built into the UK economy, which would include “ambitious and legally binding targets” for the future. 

He announced a call for evidence on whether passenger carriers should have to offer carbon offsets, and one on the CRC Energy Efficiency Scheme. Proposals on ‘green gas’ would be published too.

In addition, future homes standards would mandate the end of fossil fuels in heating systems by 2025. He noted that this would result in both lower fuel bills as well as lower carbon footprint.

Mr Hammond said that the Government was consulting on new measures to take the scourge of plastic waste. He noted that, for the first time in 60m years, the diversity of species was in decline and announced that the Environment Bill would mandate that all new developments sought to promote net biodiversity gain (see RTPI position on this).

He also announced that a further 445,000 sq. kilometres of ocean around Ascension Island would be categorised as a marine protected area. 

More details

This Written Ministerial Statement provides more detail on some of the announcements in the Spring Statement, and sets out details of other forthcoming government policies.

Read here the RTPI's detailed analysis