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RTPI sets out agenda for chancellor to tackle housing crisis

Words: Huw Morris

This week’s Budget must include measures to intervene in the land market and give local authorities more powers and freedom to build homes, the RTPI has urged.

In a letter to chancellor Philip Hammond, chief executive Trudi Elliott called for the Budget to create a more diverse housebuilding sector as more than half of new homes are built by just eight companies, while only 12 per cent come from small builders.

She said this represents a major loss of potential new homes because small builders delivered almost 40 per cent of new homes as recently as the 1980s. Small builders should be offered ready permitted sites to build on, with the small sites register and the Right to Build Taskforce supported to achieving this.

Councils and housing association can contribute to the drive for housing development but further policy intervention may be needed to inspire a new wave of social housebuilding.

Elliott said local authorities need support and new powers for capturing land value uplift, particularly for upfront infrastructure and affordable housing. She suggested looking at the windfall in value that goes directly to private landowners when public investment in infrastructure is made or planning permission is granted, as well as encouraging tax increment financing to secure this uplift. The government should also reform compulsory purchase orders to make them easier to introduce and enable purchase at closer to existing use value.

Elliott said access to information on land is crucial to good decisions about it, whether by developers identifying new sites for houses or local authorities engaging in strategic planning. Completing the Land Registry should be a priority, with the information made freely available and accessible. The RTPI also calls on the government to set up a register of options on land and of beneficial ownership.