Key Takeaways from the Government’s Long-Term Plan for Housing

In this article, Senior Associate Emily Knowles and Trainee Elizabeth Withers dig deeper into the government’s ‘transformational plans’ for regeneration and housing delivery and consider some of the key themes and takeaways.

One Million Homes: When, Where, and How?

The government has confirmed its commitment to delivering one million more homes of all types by the end of the next Parliament, in line with the 2019 Conservative manifesto pledge. All other announcements are fundamentally designed to meet that pledge.

Gove has described the government’s plan as a “21st century renaissance for our great cities”. The focus will be on inner-city development to meet housing demand, including the development of a new urban quarter in Cambridge, homes in East London delivered alongside the Mayor of London, and the “regeneration and renaissance of the hearts of 20 of our most important towns and cities” in the midlands and north of England, focusing initially on Sheffield, Tees Valley and Leeds. The focus on urban development, and a commitment to avoid concreting over the countryside, is in direct contrast to Labour’s plans, and is sure to be a key battlefield in the next general election.

The government claims that demand is highest in urban areas, but growth is constrained. Whilst it isn’t denied that housing in cities is in high demand, the government has failed to acknowledge the current stranglehold on development caused by concerns about water resources and nitrate neutrality. Development in all areas is being blocked for various environmental reasons and the government has not made any announcements to tackle that. Until those issues are unlocked, it is difficult to see how the government will deliver on the plan for one million homes.

If it does manage to unblock those environmental points the government plans to aid delivery through the increased use of development corporations and the creation of a planning “super-squad”; a team that can be deployed where necessary to ensure local authorities have access to the planning talent required to unlock development. Whilst an injection of personnel is useful it will be interesting to see whether a team of ‘floating’ planners will be able to imbed themselves within teams and understand local and regional concerns to make their input effective.

PD Rights: Here we go again…

The government has also announced plans to relax planning rules aim to create more homes in the “hearts of our cities”.

Further permitted development (PD) rights are proposed to allow the conversion of shops, takeaways, and betting shops into homes. These PD rights will also facilitate barn conversions and allow agricultural buildings and disused warehouses to be repurposed. Whilst new homes are clearly needed, the further extension of PD rights raises concerns about poor-quality residential environments and poor infrastructure caused by conversions that lack a planning application process. There is also a question as to whether the right homes will be delivered in the right places. DLUHC will launch a consultation on new PD rights to provide more certainty.

These further PD rights will also extend to homeowners and the government has announced plans to consult on better support for existing homeowners to build upwards and outwards. This includes extensions, loft conversions and the conversion of existing buildings into new accommodation.

The consultation on PD rights will run until 25 September 2023, and as this period unfolds it will be interesting to see how the government addresses the concerns about the quality of new developments as they attempt to meet the pressing housing demand.

More funding announced, but is it enough?

To deliver new housing developments, the government has announced plans to provide additional support to local authorities where planners are already under immense pressure to deliver.

The government will provide a £24 million ‘Planning Skills Delivery Fund’ aimed at improving local planning authority resources to clear backlogs and to provide additional training to planning authorities. With additional resources required to tackle the imminent implementation of mandatory BNG, it remains to be seen if this level of funding will make any difference, but it is hoped that the increase in resources should help ensure that new homes are delivered more speedily without sacrificing quality.

In a commitment to establish well-resourced planning authorities, developers will be asked to pay more in fees to ensure that this more efficient planning service is of a high quality. This emphasis on quality is also visible with the launch (or re-launch) of the government’s Office for Place which aims to ensure that “beautiful new homes are built according to a simple design code supported by local people”.  This focus on simplicity can also be seen in the government’s intended changes to local plans. The government promises a consultation on the reformation of local plans to become simpler and shorter, and to reduce the time and cost of bureaucracy.

In summary, the government’s solution to concerns that quantity of developments will affect the quality of infrastructure is to ensure local authorities are well-resourced, whilst simplifying the process to prevent further backlog.

Proposed NSIP Reforms

The UK government plans to reform the planning process for Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects (NSIPs).

These reforms will include the streamlining of the consenting process, and the introduction of a fast-track route for consent, and the strengthening of engagement between developers and local communities. The fast-track route pilots are set to take place in September.

The action plan also promised consultations on full cost recovery for handling NSIP applications and guidance on engagement with communities by infrastructure promoters. Additionally, to help councils speed-up infrastructure development and to ensure the system is sufficiently resourced, the government will announce a second round of the Innovation and Capacity Fund.

The consultation on reforming the planning process for NSIPs will run until 19 September.

This article is for general awareness only and does not constitute legal or professional advice. The law may have changed since this page was first published. If you would like further advice and assistance in relation to any of the issues raised in this article, please contact us today by telephone or email

Posted in Elizabeth Withers, Emily Knowles, Latest news and blog, Planning applications and agreements, Real Estate, planning and regeneration.