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The impact of the Housing and Planning Act 2016


Jay Das says the Housing and Planning Act 2016 will bring significant changes. Here, she considers what she feels are the most significant.

Jay Das, Wedlake BellStarter Homes and Affordable Housing


Planning authorities will be required to have regard to the provision of starter homes in determining planning applications. Starter homes are defined as new dwellings to be sold at a discount of at least 20 per cent of market value and are available to first time buyers between the ages of 23 and 40 years of age. As a result of the ping pong with the House of Lords, the details will be set out in regulation. These changes are likely to reduce the delivery of traditional forms of affordable housing (details to be published in regulations). The act also removes (save for limited exceptions) the requirement for affordable housing/contributions from small sites (of 10 units for less or less than 1000 metres squared).

Permission in principle


Permission in principle may be granted by development order for housing-led development, so will be at the behest of central government. Development order can be introduced relatively swiftly and once the relevant development document is adopted permission in principle will be granted. This has the potential to make a significant impact on the speed at which development can be funded and delivered and may resemble powers used to allow residential conversion from office use (although details are awaited).

Right to Buy


Tenants of housing associations and registered providers will be able to purchase their homes, and government and mayoral funding may be available for the purpose of discounts to be applied. These changes were debated at length before the bill was published and an agreement was reached with the registered providers that any acquisition would be on a voluntary basis. Secretary of state/mayor – greater powers of intervention The secretary of state has secured wider powers of intervention/direction in relation to development plan documents, neighbourhood plans and nationally significant infrastructure projects with housing development. Greater powers through devolvement is proposed for the London Mayor.



The government is to pilot introducing competition to the processing of prescribed forms of planning applications. The act makes it clear that the planning authority will still be responsible for the determination of planning applications. These changes have met with concern from local authorities and further regulations will set out the details. Time will tell whether this impacts the processing of remaining applications by local authorities.


These changes will provide significant opportunities and threats for those involved in planning and development and they will need to understand the detailed regulations which will follow.

Jay Das, is head of the planning team at Wedlake Bell LLP.

Image credit | Shuttershock


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