Government reforms to the planning system have been dubbed a “real estate developer charter” that will benefit conservative donors and could spell the end of affordable housing.
The proposed reforms, announced last week, would see the end of Section 106 agreements under which developers provide affordable homes in exchange for building permission.
The government intends to replace the agreements – and another revenue generator, the community infrastructure tax – with a new levy that it says will increase levels of collected revenue nationwide compared to the current system. and ensure the provision of more affordable housing.
But opposition parties and housing experts fear the reforms will be a backward step. “Section 106 agreements are how the majority of our current social houses are built,” said Polly Neate, CEO of Shelter. “We are getting a pathetically low number of new social houses built each year, far fewer than the number sold or demolished. We desperately need to build more social housing, without jeopardizing the now already pitiful net.
During the fiscal year until April 2019, only 6,287 new social housing units were delivered. Some 23,740 were sold or demolished during the same period.
“Scrapping Section 106 may well make developers happy, but for the more than 1 million households currently on the social housing waiting list, it could challenge their chances of getting a home even more.” safe and truly affordable, ”said Neate.
Sondhya Gupta, of SumOfUs, who campaigns against corporate takeovers, said reforms would see planning decisions taken away from local people.
She said: “Covid-19 has made us feel more connected to our communities, and many of us have become more attuned to the infrastructure we need locally. Taking that decision-making away from local people and handing it over to greedy property developers is a big blow to local democracy.
Labor Labor’s shadow secretary for housing MP Thangam Debbonaire said: “These toxic reforms could spell the end of affordable housing and show that this government is more interested in helping its wealthy fellow donors than workers who need affordable housing. good quality.
The Department of Housing, Communities and Local Government rejected suggestions that the government was bowing to real estate developers. “These claims are completely false,” he said. “Our proposals will introduce a simpler fee that will ensure developers offer at least as much, if not more, affordable housing. This new tax will generate more revenue than in the current system. “