Tag Archives: Sajid Javid

Secretary of State threatens to intervene with Local Plans

Sajid Javid has today announced he will be formally intervening in “unacceptably slow” local authorities who are yet to adopt their local plans.

Blasting local authorities who are lagging behind in adopting a local plan for development, the Communities Secretary said that his “patience has run out” and that the formal intervention process for non-compliant local authorities will begin.

Speaking in Bristol this morning, Javid set out the need for sustainable housing development across the country and praised the majority of councils who were performing well, adding: “Where councils are showing drive and ambition the government will back them every step of the way, including with a kind of housing deal we are negotiating here in the West of England.”

While many authorities are performing well, too many local authorities “still leave much to be desired” he added, highlighting how not having a local plan in place can bring “piecemeal speculative development with no strategic direction”.

In a clear message to local authorities to engage with communities and get local plans agreed, the Communities Secretary announced he has been ‘left with no choice’ but to begin formal intervention.

The Housing White Paper released in February made mention of Government’s willingness to intervene in the affairs of any local authorities who had not adopted a plan, but as of yet no local authorities have been subject to the measure.

While over 70 local authorities are yet to adopt a local plan, Javid has singled out 15 as being a “particular cause for concern” that will require Government intervention to help them adopt a local plan and deliver certainty for local residents.

The 15 local authorities are:

  • City of York Council,
  • Basildon,
  • Brentwood,
  • Bolsover,
  • Calderdale,
  • Castle Point,
  • Eastleigh,
  • Liverpool,
  • Mansfield,
  • North East
  • Derbyshire,
  • Northumberland,
  • Runnymede,
  • St Albans,
  • Thanet,
  • Wirrell

Crispin Blunt MP tightens Greenbelt on Government

Crispin Blunt and some London based colleagues have taken up the cudgels in the green belt debate. Mr Blunt, MP for Reigate, formed the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for London’s green belt with the intention of pressuring the Government to do more to protect green belt, build on brownfield land and increase the speed that developers are building out.

In a letter from Mr Blunt to Communities Secretary Sajid Javid, the group claim the new housing need assessment put forward by Government in September imposes “excessive housing targets” in areas where local authorities will have little choice but to build on green belt or AONB land.

The secretariat for the APPG will be provided by the London Green Belt Council, a group chaired by Richard Knox-Johnston, who is also the vice-chairman of CPRE Kent. CPRE and the London Green Belt Council have always worked intimately with each other, and jointly published a paper last year calling for a moratorium on development in the green belt.

Given the new group will have close involvement from the CPRE, it’s perhaps no surprise they have already echoed CPRE’s calls on Government to prioritise development on brownfield land rather than release more land for homes in expensive areas of the country to ease the housing crisis.

The group has also called for councils to be given the power to reject development proposals which do not meet local affordable housing requirements, even if they don’t have a Local Plan or an establish five year housing supply. However, given the National Planning Policy Framework’s presumption in favour of sustainable development, and the number of rulings which have been determined on this basis in recent years, it’s unlikely Government will budge on this when the NPPF is updated.

Announcing the launch of the APPG, Crispin Blunt said:

“I am delighted we have formed the APPG for London’s Green Belt. With the number of Green Belt sites around London under threat from development more than doubling over the past year, we urgently need to review our approach to housing policy across the region. The group will inform the debate and develop recommendations for Green Belt-friendly planning policy.”

The group consists of:

  • Crispin Blunt MP, Co-Chair, (Conservative, Reigate)
  • Lord Rogers of Riverside CH, Co-Chair, (Labour)
  • Gareth Thomas MP, Vice Chair, (Labour and Co-op, Harrow)
  • Adam Holloway MP, (Conservative, Gravesham)
  • Rt Hon Mrs Cheryl Gillan (Conservative, Chesham and Amersham)
  • Baroness Jones of Moulsecomb (Green)

The group is well versed in green belt issues and brings considerable influence to bear within Westminster, with Lord Rogers of Riverside CH having served as Chief Advisor on Architecture and Urbanism to Boris Johnston and Ken Livingston and Gareth Thomas MP the current President of the London green belt Council.

Given Crispin Blunt MPs assertion that failures in the planning system have  placed “unreasonable pressures on local authorities to provide new homes whilst developers have ‘land banked’ sites”, we can expect the APPG to steer Government to include measures on speeding up  build-out on sites which have already received planning permission, in upcoming planning changes.

No group meetings have been arranged yet, but keeping watching this space.

Javid jostles for budget funding?

Live on the Andrew Marr show yesterday Sajid Javid made plain his desire to see the Government borrow money to support house building.

The Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government said: “We are looking at new investments and I’m sure that the Budget will be covering housing”. Perhaps not the words of someone who is sure of the way the Chancellor is thinking. So, what does he have in mind?

It was notable that Mr Javid’s focus was on the provision of infrastructure to facilitate more house building rather than house building itself. This is certainly a worthy aim and could conceivably help to persuade concerned communities that new homes won’t mean local schools and hospitals suffering from overcrowding, and their roads becoming more jammed up.

However, while worthy, it misses the political point and is unlikely to address the Tories generation gap. Younger people have been brought up on a diet of instant fixes. They may understand the need for infrastructure in theory, they feel the compelling need for their own roof over their head right now, regardless of the local road system. Labour get this and are calling for a new wave of house building right now – hitting the zeitgeist on the head.

Javid also moved to scotch the swirling rumours about relaxations on development on the Green Belt, which would probably be political suicide for the Conservatives who rely on the shire counties to deliver thumping majorities. Despite flagging the opportunity presented by low interest rates, he also avoided the issue of letting local authorities borrow to build their own housing, an anomaly as they can borrow to buy other assets.

But readers should also note that Javid is flying a kite, he doesn’t know which way Hammond is going to jump on any of these issues. There are a huge number of areas where extra government investment can buy votes – increased wages for nurses, more bobbies on the beat, investment in the NHS….. Javid is making his case on Andrew Marr in public in an effort to put pressure on Mr Hammond.

We only have a month to wait to find out which way the Chancellor will jump.

Javid Announces Ban on Controversial Leaseholds

Sajid_Javid_(cropped)Communities Secretary Sajid Javid has announced today radical new proposals to crack down on the use of controversial leaseholds in new-build homes.

Leaseholds have previously been used for flats with shared communal areas however the number of houses sold as leaseholds has increased significantly in recent years. In many of these cases, there are clauses within the leaseholds that specify significant increases in ‘ground rent’ charges. A common example is for the ground rent to double every ten years. This has led to some leaseholders being left with homes that are almost impossible to sell.

In other instances, the freehold has been sold onto a third party, with well-publicised issues when leaseholders seek to buy the freehold only to find the cost has shot up or find that even making changes to their homes ends up costing significant sums.

Sajid Javid has announced the government will crack down on this practice, potentially even banning leaseholds on all new houses. The government’s proposals include:

  • A ban on all leaseholds on new-build homes;
  • Restricting ground rent increases to as low as zero;
  • Closing ‘legal loopholes’ such as leaseholders potentially being subject to possession orders;
  • Help to Buy equity loans will only be able to be used to support new build homes ‘on acceptable terms’

These proposals will be subject to an eight-week consultation which opens today and can be viewed here.

Sir Peter Bottomley, Co-Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Leasehold Reform and Conservative MP for Worthing West, welcomed the announcement but called for the proposals to be applied retrospectively to those who currently have leasehold properties. The announcement has also been well-received by the press, however questions are beginning to be asked about how existing leaseholders will be affected by the new legislation.

The plans are likely to be popular with both Labour and Conservative voters so may be passed with relative ease – one of many quick wins Theresa May will be desperate for. However, there could be significant implications for developers. At present, there is little detail on how the new proposals would be enforced and how the government will use the feedback it receives from the consultation. Chelgate will closely monitor this policy for further developments.