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The government released a document called the Housing White Paper in March 2017 and its aim is to help iron out the creases in the planning system and to boost new build development in the UK.

The White Paper admits that our planning system is one that is broken and does not supply enough homes.

This has been coming for over a decade and it’s about time the government are starting to do something about it rather than brushing over it.

The shortfall of new homes in the UK is an alarming 100,000 units per year.

This shortfall is what keeps house prices on the rise and makes a lot of homes simply unaffordable to most.

Whilst increasing property prices are always a good thing for a development business, the situation is not sustainable and can only last for so long before the market takes a dive. It also makes land more expensive and competitive to purchase so it is not win/win for development.

What’s good about the Whitepaper is that the government plan to shake up the existing planning process and to make things easier for developers and land owners to do business. – Easier said than done however.

Below is 5 of the key parts to the whitepaper document.

1. Local Plans need to be kept up to date.

Every local council has a local plan and for us in Milton Keynes, our plan is very out of date.

The Milton Keynes local plan was originally made for 2001-2011, and a Core Strategy was made to replace parts of the local plan in 2013.

Consultation for the new Plan:MK started in December 2014 and we are still waiting for the new plan to be implemented. It is likely to be late 2018 for the new Plan:MK to be in place.

Not to mention the NPPF (National Planning Policy Framework) that governs all local plans, released by the government in 2012.

Our local plan is all over the place with conflicting policy’s which makes it very hard for land owners to understand exactly what is what. This is where a thorough understanding of all policy relating to development is a necessity, and at Pure Estates Milton Keynes we have hand picked the very best team of land buyers, agents, planning consultants and architects to make the maximum planning permission a reality.

The whitepaper aims to make councils have a local plan that is updated at least every 5 years to ensure policies to not become out-dated.

With no relevant and up to date local plan in place – it generally opens up potential loopholes that can make gaining planning permission possible in areas that wouldn’t normally be possible.

2. Planning departments will receive more funding

The government is planning to provide more funds for Milton Keynes council planning department to boost efficiency, which at present is always woeful.

Planning decisions always take extra time and the whole process is generally stuck in 1st gear.

Whether this will actually happen and if the planning process will be made quicker remains to be seen and it could be years before any of us see the benefit of this.

3. Planning permission to last only 2 years

The government wants to speed up the build out time on developments with planning permission granted. The current time span for successful planning permission lasts for 3 years, and the government want to reduce this to 2 years.

Developers tend to sit on sites that have planning permission for the main reason of waiting for property values to go up to boost profits.

A lot of the time, a developer will sit on a site because they have miss calculated a cost such as s106, CIL (Community Infrastructure Levy) or they have missed an expensive cable within the grounds that costs a fortune to remove.

At Pure Estates, when we appraise land and offer prices to land owners, we fully investigate every potential problem and cost so that our deals do not reach sticking points and actually happen.

If you are a landowner, it is all well and good someone offering you a price but it has to be realistic so that the deal actually completes.

4. Small windfall sites easier to develop

The details are not clear on this and like anything, the devil is in the detail, but the whitepaper aims to make planning permission easier on brownfield sites.

Brownfield sites are sites that have been previously developed and are regenerated such as old warehouses or factory’s knocked down and used as residential housing.

The problem with Brownfield sites in Milton Keynes is that MK is still relatively new so the amount of potential brownfield sites here are a lot less than somewhere like Bedfordshire or Aylesbury Vale.

Milton Keynes has only just turned 50 years old in 2017 and its design is unique, so the supply of redundant and derelict buildings is minima

5. The Green Belt stays

The whitepaper has made a strong commitment to maintain the green belt and prevent development within it.

It states that Green belt boundaries can be amended but only in exceptional circumstances, every potential site within the green belt or on the edge of a green belt boundary is unique and requires a thorough analysis of its feasibility.

We have developed sites within the Green Belt and have the experience of navigating this difficult policy – if you have a potential site and want to maximise the possible value, get in touch with us here.

As it stands, the whitepaper claims to simplify the current planning process and to make it easier but let’s face it, the housing dilemma will not be sorted out overnight and it will take decades to turn around properly.

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