Autumn Statement 2015 : A Housing Challenge

Ahead of the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement, the BBC’s Robert Peston commented that: “If George Osborne has a big idea, it is to transfer the costs of, and responsibility for, building a better, fairer Britain from the public sector to the private sector”. Land Aid has been galvanised to act decisively by the fact that 83,000 young people will experience homelessness this coming year, and the Government wants to see one million new homes delivered by 2020.

Whilst the Chancellor unveiled large-scale spending cuts, he also announced spending plans which he said will deliver a £10 billion surplus by the next General Election, including a number of new initiatives which will specifically benefit Yorkshire and the North.  Highlights seeking to address the housing challenge include:

400,000 Affordable Homes 

The Government will double the housing budget from 2018-19 to more than £2bn per year in order to help fund construction of 400,000 new “affordable homes” by the end of the decade; these will include 200,000 ‘starter homes’ (to be sold at 80% of market value to first-time buyers under 40), 135,000 new Help to Buy shared ownership homes and 10,000 Rent to Buy homes.

Release of £4.5bn Public Sector Land for Housing 

The Government will support the release of unused and previously undeveloped commercial, retail, and industrial land for Starter Homes, and the regeneration of previously developed brownfield sites in the green belt by allowing sites to be developed in the same way as other brownfield land, providing it contributes to Starter Homes, subject to local consultation.

Councils to Keep Property Receipts 

The Government will introduce measures to enable councils to keep 100% of receipts on property assets they sell in order to spend on local services.

Planning Reforms and Delivery of Housing Targets 

Reforms to the planning system, including establishing a new delivery test on local authorities to ensure delivery of the number of homes set out in Local Plans.

Support for SME House-Builders 

This is to include amending planning policy to support small sites, extending the £1bn Builders’ Finance Fund to 2020-21, and halving the length of the planning guarantee for minor developments.

Council Housing Estates & Enabling Infrastructure 

The Government will offer £2.3bn in loans to help regenerate large council estates, and to invest in infrastructure needed for major housing developments.

A New ‘Garden City’ Movement 

A £310m investment to support delivery of the first new ‘Garden City’ in nearly 100 years at Ebbsfleet. This is part of a wider £700m programme of regeneration at Barking Riverside, Brent Cross, Northstowe and Bicester Garden Town; together these will support up to 60,000 new homes.

London Help to Buy Scheme

A new Help to Buy equity loan scheme will provide buyers in London with 40% of the home value from early 2016, an increase over the 20% which the current scheme provides.

SDLT on Purchase of Buy-to-Let and Second Homes 

From 1 April 2016 those purchasing additional properties such as buy-to-let properties and second homes will pay an extra 3% in Stamp Duty Land Tax; the monies raised will be used to help first-time buyers.

New Enterprise Zones in Leeds & York

York Central Enterprise Zone to the rear of York railway station is a 100-acre (40 hectare) brown-field site extending north west towards the former British Sugar site. On relocation of existing rail uses, redevelopment projections are for over 1,000 new housing units, together with a new commercial quarter of upto 1,000,000 square feet (100,000 m²), which it is suggested could create up to 6,600 jobs in the City and over £1.1bn value for the region’s economy.

The M62 Corridor Enterprise Zone will focus on advanced manufacturing across four local authority areas, Bradford, Calderdale, Kirklees and Wakefield, and is set to further boost the Leeds City Region.

In addition, the Humber Enterprise Zone is being extended, with a view to providing commercial space to support growth in offshore wind energy, ports and logistics, and also to support the expansion of creative & digital and tourist sectors linked to Hull’s status as the 2017 City of Culture. Enterprise Zone status enables a business to obtain a discount in business rates worth up to £275,000 over a five-year period and to receive tax relief on large investments in plant & machinery; the Local Entreprise Partnerships will retain all of the business rate growth within the zone.

Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund

A new £400m investment fund will support the growth of small businesses, the money coming from the European Regional Development Fund, the European Investment Bank and the UK Government.

Great Exhibition of the North and Legacy Fund

Sir Gary Verity has been appointed to spearhead the Great Exhibition of the North, a showcase of the arts, culture and design in the North, which will be supported by an investment of £5m with a further £15m being invested in the Great Exhibition Legacy Fund.

Hull : City of Culture 2017

The Chancellor has promised Government help of £1m to support the City of Hull; the year-long celebration as City of Culture in 2017 is expected to bring massive economic benefits.