Johnson vs Hunt: Their Property Ladder Strategy and How the Next PM Plans to Build Up Not Out!

On 23rd July the Conservative Party will vote for a new leader who will become the next Prime Minister. Both candidates during The Final Showdown which was streamed on YouTube and on TalkRADIO discussed their strategy to help young people onto the property ladder.

Jeremy Hunt when asked by audience guest Amara Garasia how both candidates plan to solve the issue of affordable housing, responded by announcing his Right to Own scheme designed to help 1.5m young people get onto the property ladder by giving them land that already has planning permission. This mirrors the current Self Building Scheme.

Whereas Mr Johnson announced a Part Buy Part Rent scheme similar to the current shared ownership initiative whilst promising not to develop Green Belt sites. His plan to invest in public infrastructure, in particular transport, and he claims this will allow brownfield sites across England and Wales to be developed enabling more affordable housing for young people.

This is the case in London where recent plans to develop the Brent's Grand Union village are underway. The former brownfield site will house 3,000 new homes as part of a regeneration scheme.

However, regardless of who wins the Tory leadership contest the Government are expected to continue their push to deliver new homes via planning legislation. Both candidates talked openly about protecting the Green Belt land with Jeremy Hunt discussing a possible trade-off, making it easier for people to build up rather than out.

Planning Permission

The Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (England) Order 2015 (the GPDO) will help with this. The GPDO is planning legislation referred to above and automatically grants planning permission for development, subject to certain circumstances, to be carried out without the necessity of a planning application.

Since 2013, the GPDO has allowed the conversion of offices, warehouses, and agricultural buildings to new homes without the need to apply for planning permission from local Councils. It is anticipated that the Government will release further changes to the GPDO to allow for the upwards extension of certain buildings, compatible with a dwelling house use, with the aim of helping to deliver new homes to meet its ambitious target of 300,000 new homes a year. Although it’s worth noting the Government have to date failed to reach this target.

During the debate both Mr Johnson and Mr Hunt were asked if they would recommit to government target of 300,000 new homes being built Boris Johnson declined to offer a number whereas Jeremy Hunt recommitted to the figure.

Prior to this debate there were early indications of the Government’s intention to utilise upwards extensions to deliver new homes within the revised National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF), which was released initially in July 2018 (amended February 2019).

In part of the policy (paragraph 118e of the NPPF) states that planning policies and decisions should:

“Support opportunities to use the airspace above existing residential and commercial premises for new homes. In particular, they should allow upward extensions where the development would be consistent with the prevailing height and form of neighbouring properties and the overall street scene, is well designed (including complying with any local design policies and standards), and can maintain safe access and egress for occupiers.”

It is expected that the right to extend upwards would apply to buildings that are in uses deemed to be compatible with residential use such as existing dwellings, shops, restaurants and cafes, offices, etc., many of which are already capable of being converted to dwellings under existing permitted development rights. By limiting what types of buildings can be extended, the amenity of future occupants of the new homes should be adequately protected.

The new right is expected to be introduced in Autumn 2019. There will be great anticipation as to how the legislation will be constructed and what processes will be put in place to deliver this type of development.

For more information regarding planning permission please call Fiona Bradley, our Principal Planner on 01206 766333 or click on the links within this article.