Levelling up real estate
The government’s ‘Levelling Up in the United Kingdom’ white paper published earlier this month contains 12 UK-wide policy ‘missions’ to be delivered by 2030. The programme aims to tackle the regional and local inequalities that hold back communities and to encourage private sector investment across the UK.
It sets out a number of measures aimed at increasing home ownership, improving housing quality and reforming the planning system in England:
Increase home ownership
- Continued ambition to deliver 300,000 new homes per year in England;
- Creation of sustainable neighbourhoods – focus housing around existing and planned transport infrastructure to enable walking, cycling and high quality local public transport;
- Increase the amount of social housing;
- Creation of the First Homes scheme to provide a 30% discount to help first time buyers buy a home in their community; and
- A commitment to reduce the number of abortive transactions by ensuring that the ‘critical material information buyers need to know (such as tenure-type, lease length and any service charges) is available digitally wherever possible from trusted and authenticated sources and provided only once’.An unexpected addition to the Levelling Up agenda, many consider this an attempt to re-introduce the controversial Home Information Packs which were a mandatory requirement of the conveyancing process between 2007 and 2010. If necessary, the government will legislate to address this because around a third of all housing transactions fall through, costing people hundreds of millions of pounds each year.
Improve housing quality
- Introduce new powers for councils to apply a premium of up to 100% to homes left empty for a year, rather than two years;
- Ban new leasehold houses and new financial ground rents;
- Consultation on measures to empower more leaseholders to take control of property management and make it cheaper and easier for them to buy the freehold and improve take up of commonhold flats;
- Publish a white paper in spring 2022 to consult on:
– support for ‘no-fault’ evictions in the private rented sector; and
– proposals for new minimum standards for rented homes, introducing a new National Landlord Register and taking action against rogue landlords
- Energy efficiency improvements funding for the worst performing homes and those least able to pay to help reduce carbon emissions and lower energy bills.
Reform of the planning system
- Local Plans to be made simpler and shorter;
- The Government is developing models for a new infrastructure levy to support local authorities in capturing value from development more efficiently; and
- Enhanced compulsory purchase powers to support town centre regeneration, including support for re-using brownfield land for development.